The True Story Behind Bad Education

‘Bad Education’, directed by Cory Finley, revolves around a school district in Long Island. Mostly so, the school districts’ superintendent, Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman). Everyone loves and looks up to Tassone before the truth behind the widely respected figure comes out.  The plot brings into its mix several characters who are all important to put together one of the biggest scandals the school’s locality has ever seen. As Tassone proves vital to improving the ranking of the school, the eye-opening details of his real endeavors have everyone reeling from its aftermath. The film, however, uses elevated humor to provide an insightful depth to its core matter.

Is Bad Education a Real Story?

Yes, ‘Bad Education’ is based on a true story concerning Frank Tassone, one of the former superintendents of the Roslyn School District in Long Island. The embezzlement case was all over the news when it came out in 2004. Considered as one of the biggest money theft from a public school, the whole country went into shock concerning the enormity of the issue.

What Was the Case?

Roslyn High, was a well to do school wherein its students were known across the nation as one of the top scorers in tests like SATs that led them to enter in large numbers to top Ivy League schools. The school district, which was declared as one of the finest across the country, had remarkable attributes like offering foreign languages to students in kindergarten. The community and the school held a good relationship. In the mutually benefitting custom of giving and take, the community pooled into the school budget, and the school worked on their children.

Everything was going well, till certain accusations and claims sprang to light. The starting point was the chain reaction to a high school newspaper article by one of its students, Rebekah Rombom, who reported about the potential involvement of the assistant superintendent in stealing from the school fund for personal gains. Pamela Gluckin was thus accused of stealing over $ 250, 000 to pay for her luxury requirements like her apartment in the Hamptons. The beloved superintendent of the school district, Frank Tassone, came to the rescue and ensured the parents and community that he would personally see to the resolution of this issue.

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However, things took a wild turn when Tassone himself was found to be guilty of embezzling school funds from the taxpayers’ money. He then came clean of having spent around $ 2 million on vacations in places like Thailand, and Europe, basking in luxurious purchases. A few more school administrators and staff were found to be involved in the crime. In the end, it was found that the whole scandal cost around $ 11.2 million.

The Case Goes to Trial

The case which was then taken to trial exposed several others in the scam, who was also then slapped with fraud. This involved several relatives of Gluckin that included her son, Tassone’s partner, the news which revealed that Tassone is gay ( a well-kept secret till then), the accountant of the school, and so on. Tassone took the practical route by cutting a deal with the case prosecutor and pleading guilty. What could have been a possible jail sentence for about 25 years was cut short to 4-12 years. Gluckin, who followed the same suit, was charged with 3-9 years in prison.

Tassone was released in 2010, and this sparked some protests in the Roslyn community. Gluckin, however, was denied parole two times in 2008 and 2009. However, she, too, was released in 2011.

Where Do Things Stand Now?

Frank Tassone and Pamela Gluckin, as a result of the case, are prohibited from holding any credit cards or checking accounts. In addition, they are also banned from working in a fiduciary capacity. Gluckin, post her release works for a non-profit in Queens. Tassone remained pretty much in the shadows until the news of ‘Bad Education’ reached him. In a recent interview with the Coach Mike Podcast, he opened up about his past and his life post his release from jail. He spoke about the death of his wife, and his subsequent interest in gay men. But then he later admitted that he found some men more attractive than women in general. He said that he lives every day with pain and guilt now.

However, an interesting fact was brought to light. His involvement with the scam began when Gluckin brushed off his attempts to run the cheques of personal expenditure. In any case, when asked about the film, he said: “I’m afraid of seeing myself portrayed as being a liar and a cheat and a thief — and I was a thief, no question.”

Mike Makowsky, who wrote the screenplay for the film is a former student of Roslyn High. He interviewed several of his teachers, friends, other students, and staff to create the script for the film. Rebekah Rombom, who initially broke the news, played a major role in contributing to not just the truth of the case but also facts and experiences of hers from school that helped build the film’s narrative.

The scam though officially in the past, now has an immortal status through the film.

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