Meet Mona Lisa Tello. She teaches bilingual science, whatever that is. I guess it means she’s illiterate in two languages. This hardworking teacher apparently needed a break from her cushy job and decided to forge a jury notice. Just one problem:
Her spelling was so atrocious, it was downright criminal.
A veteran Manhattan educator was busted for allegedly forging a jury-duty letter with so many errors that it raised red flags when she used it to excuse more than a dozen school absences.
Mona Lisa Tello, 60, a bilingual-science teacher at the HS of Graphic Communication Arts in Hell’s Kitchen, was arrested this week on three felony counts of forgery related to her grade-A screw-up.
Tello channeled an errant third-grader rather than a 13-year teaching veteran when she misspelled “trial” as “trail,” “cited” as “sited,” and “manager” as “manger” in a careless note on fake letterhead from Hudson County Superior Court in Jersey City.
She also got the easily verifiable address, telephone and fax numbers of the New Jersey court wrong in a letter she submitted to her school payroll secretary in June.
The note oddly claimed that her jury duty consisted of 15 random days stretching from Sept. 16, 2010, through May 31, 2011, rather than for a typically short, consecutive-day term.
“She was taking these days off and telling [school administrators] that this was part of her jury duty for the Superior Court,” said Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon.
“They kept saying, ‘Let us see something from the court.’ I guess it got to the point she was feeling the pressure to produce the letter.”
Tello’s case reached Condon’s investigators after her principal called the court and learned that the real letter to Tello had been a deferral of jury duty until September 2011.
Department of Education officials said Tello agreed to resign irrevocably as of Jan. 15 rather than face a termination hearing.
Tello, who earned $76,000 in 2010, did not respond to a phone call or e-mail seeking comment.
According to a Facebook profile, Tello has been moonlighting for years as an event designer and planner.
Even there, one of her skills is mistakenly described as “decortating.”