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Retaliation? RCSD CFO "punished" after sexual harassment claims against Dr. Lesli Myers-Small?

Democrat & Chronicle's writer Justin Murphy reported, Rochester City School District Chief Financial Officer Carleen Pierce is on administrative leave and is expected to leave her job one way or another within days, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the situation, further complicating the district's already harried budget season.

RCSD has brought on its former budget director, Vern Connors, as an administrative substitute to help steer it through the budget process. Its first budget proposal, developed under Pierce's watch, was rejected by State Monitor Shelley Jallow.


According to our source, Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small placed CFO Carleen Pierce on administrative leave. The source alleged Pierce is the scapegoat for the budgeting debacle – it is retaliation for her sexual harassment claims. Our source advised us that the budget is the superintendent's responsibility. They also alleged Pierce's requests for meetings to correct the budget was ignored.


Published September 26, 2021


On September 16, Democrat & Chronicle (see link below) reported that someone filed a sexual harassment complaint against Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small of RCSD. At that time, information regarding the person who filed the complaint or what happened remained a mystery. Now, our source is speaking out. According to the source, the woman behind the sexual harassment complaint is allegedly RCSD’s CFO Carleen Pierce. The source confirmed that in August Myers-Small, Pierce and others attended a Retreat at East High School. Allegedly, during the event, several witnesses watched in disbelief as Myers-Small touched Pierce’s breast and overheard her complimenting Pierce’s legs. The source claimed that Pierce is a well-dressed woman and wears pumps that give the appearance of muscular legs. The source also claimed that a superior witnessed the indecent interaction between Myers-Small and Pierce. Pierce allegedly was reluctant to file a complaint but was pressured to do so.


According to RCSD’s website Carleen Pierce was appointed as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on August 10, 2020, after serving as an interim CFO since 2015. In June of 2020, Pierce was featured on Spectrum News regarding the pandemic.”Just because you want something doesn't mean you can afford it," Pierce said. "And it's the same sort of thing in the district."Rochester schools will absorb sweeping staff, service reductions, and school closings. Pierce says years of state and outside oversight have set the right course. "State auditors, external auditors, we have the road map," Pierce said. "Now, we just have to get the job done."Pierce wears CFO hats for the city schools, and East High School EPO, and as she juggles pandemic contingencies and school reopening plans for both, she knows it will be how she explains the dollars and cents to families that will rebuild a generation of faltering trust in the district. "When financial people, bean counters, school financial leaders speak, it comes across in a different language," she said. Pierce and district leadership won't have much of a summer. It'll take most of that, and the fall, to lay the foundation for rebuilt trust in the district, when its next budget plan is due November 1.

Board President Van White stated, "It has come to our attention there are some allegations made against the superintendent (Myers-Small) and we’ve retained outside counsel to investigate those allegations. The allegations are currently under investigation by the law firm Woods Oviatt Gilman.

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