Saidel Calls Schools On Phone Use

Posted: May 07, 1992

That heavy breathing you hear may be coming from your local school building.

In an audit released yesterday, City Controller Jonathan Saidel banged the School District for "significant abuse" of phone sex lines and personal long-distance calls.

School officials are "responsible for the spending of taxpayers'

dollars," Saidel said. "It's up to them to monitor their employees to make sure this nonsense doesn't continue."

School officials said the sex line calls were made during a telephone company screwup and that they were putting systems in place to monitor long- distance calls.

Auditors examined 10 telephone bills during a four-month period ending July 31, 1991, and found that "at least" 157 phone calls were made to sex lines, at a cost of $1,527.01. The School District spent $3.9 million on telephone use during fiscal year 1991.

Sex lines like "Hot Hott," "Love Line" and "Tele Gal" received much school business, with itemized phone calls costing from $1.29 for a one-minute call to "Tele Gal" to $36 for an 18-minute call to "Date Line."

The 10 telephone bills also revealed that school employees spent tax money making personal calls to educational hotspots like Las Vegas and Myrtle Beach at a total cost of $374.19.

School officials implemented a district-wide block in 1989 to prevent employees from making 900 calls, but the phone company inadvertently lifted the block in some areas in 1991, according to Dick Wollaver, executive director of the district's management information services.

"We're guilty but we're not guilty, if you know what I mean," Wollaver said.

He said school employees are required to keep long-distance logs and reimburse the district for personal calls.

"We collect several thousand dollars a month from people who have legitimately made calls and legitimately tell us," he said.

By the end of June, all calls will be monitored, Wollaver said.

A Bell of Pennsylvania spokeswoman said the company had repaid nearly $20,000 to the School District for sex-line calls made while the block was lifted. School officials put the recovered fees at $16,000.

Most of the reported sex calls during the four-month audit came from Edward Bok Technical, 8th and Mifflin streets. Wollaver said an employee who has since left may be responsible for the phone calls.

"I didn't do it," Bok Principal Joseph Sweeney said with a laugh. "My wife would kill me."

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