Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Announces $176,707 Settlement for Misappropriation of Charitable and State Charter School Funds

December 22, 2010

            Attorney General Richard Blumenthal reached a $176,707 settlement today with the former operators of the Highville Mustard Seed Charter School for allegedly misappropriating state and charitable funds for personal use.

            The settlement resolves a lawsuit against former school Executive Director Lyndon Pitter, his ex-wife Nadine Pitter and former Board of Directors Chairwoman Fatima Ennis. Blumenthal reached the agreement on behalf of Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Mark K. McQuillan and Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr.

            The payment will go to the State’s General Fund, to be appropriated as the legislature sees fit.

            “Today’s settlement is the end of a successful story -- saving a school and securing money for an unconscionable misappropriation of educational funding,” Blumenthal said. “The former Highville Mustard Seed School nearly shut down due to mismanagement and misappropriation of charitable and state funds for personal use.

            “Our team effort saved a school -- enabling a newer stronger Highville Charter School to flourish -- and ultimately secured a significant settlement regarding state and charitable funds.”

            The Highville Mustard Seed Development Corporation ran the school for approximately nine years, with Lyndon Pitter serving as executive director of the school for a majority of that time. Nadine Pitter was associate director and school nurse during that time, and Ennis was a corporation board member, and later board chair. 

The state’s lawsuit alleged that Lyndon Pitter used charitable finds for his personal use, including the purchase of Armani suits, silk pajamas, a car down payment and cash; that Nadine Pitter received her full salary despite not working at the school full-time; and that Ennis approved unauthorized payments to Lyndon Pitter in 2006 and 2007.

            Blumenthal issued an investigative report in 2007 revealing fiscal malfeasance at the corporation. The report and other matters resulted in the state Board of Education to put the school on probation and consider revoking the school’s charter.

Ultimately, Blumenthal’s office, with the support of the SDE, successfully convinced the court to appoint a receiver to save the school by transferring the charter to a new corporation and resolving outstanding claims against the corporation.

The school, renamed Highville Charter School, continues to operate and has reached maximum capacity. It operates on a mix of grants and private funding.

Following his investigative report, Blumenthal sued the defendants for the alleged misappropriations and questionable transactions that resulted in today’s settlement.