The New York Post is reporting that an Orthodox rabbi who earns a city salary of almost $100,000 as a so-called “yeshiva liaison” for school buses also has the use of a government car with which he commutes both to and from his home in Brooklyn, as well as $59,000-a-year driver and assistant.
Orthodox Rabbi Moshe Ausfresser, age 75, works just four days a week, co-workers told the Post. He reportedly takes all day Friday off for the Sabbath, even though it doesn’t begin until just before sundown.
“His personal assistant, Shersheial Borisute, chauffeurs the rabbi between his Borough Park home and the Office of Pupil Transportation in Long Island City, co-workers said,” the Post reported. “Borisute drops the rabbi off at the front door, then parks the car in a lot before going inside. The DOE called Borisute a “transportation coordinator,” but colleagues say he just drives and assists the rabbi — even fetching his lunch. “He coordinates the rabbi’s transportation,” one charged.”
The OPT, a unit of the Department of Education, oversees bus transportation for 150,000 kids in public, private and religious schools.
The office has come under fire since September, the Post’s Susan Edelman wrote. “An OPT hotline has received 135,685 calls so far this year, including complaints about late or no-show buses, compared to 114,346 last year. And whistleblowers charged that supervisors have let bus companies hire drivers without adequate background checks.”
The Post has reported that several OPT employees commute in city-issued cars but do little or no field work, which the rules require. “We take allegations of misuse very seriously and this matter is being investigated,” said DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot, who refused to discuss specific employees.
The newspaper has also reported that Chancellor Richard Carranza has fired an official who oversaw busing and food service, Eric Goldstein, and on Friday accepted the resignation of ex-deputy chancellor Elizabeth Rose, who supervised Goldstein.
“Ausfresser, who joined the education department in 2007, is the only OPT employee who serves a single religious group,” the story continues. “His current salary is $98,646, the DOE said, but records show he collected $101,873 in fiscal year 2017. Borisute, who joined the DOE in 2016, makes $58,922 — about the same or more than investigators who probe alleged misconduct by bus drivers and escorts.”
Ausfresser “demands immediate attention to yeshiva problems, and insists that bus drivers be removed, even if unwarranted,” according to co-workers quoted in the Post article. “When there’s an issue, he wants it done right way — drop everything,” one said. The rabbi also goes up the DOE chain for favors, but doesn’t always get what he wants, staffers said. In one case, a yeshiva student reported a lost velvet bag used to hold prayer shawls. The rabbi claimed it was found near a bus yard. “The rabbi wanted to make a hate crime out of it,” a co-worker said. “He even went to the police.”
By Howard Riell
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