Board & Superintendent Eat Well on Taxpayers’ Dime

Ever wonder why the CUSD Board of Trustees is unwilling to provide oversight of the Superintendent’s frivolous spending? Perhaps it’s because Board members — and their spouses — would have to give up some of the perks at taxpayers’ expense.

Here are two examples:

  • On 12/4/14, the Superintendent and Board members attended the California School Boards Association (CSBA) conference in San Francisco. The combined travel expense to the District was $4,510.52 including three overnight stays, despite the event being held 42 miles from the District Office (DO). On 12/14/14, the Superintendent expensed a dinner for $377.53 for 10 entrees at Grill Concepts in San Francisco. The receipt was hand-marked “Board and spouses.” While there was internal DO communication about the legality of paying for spouses, the expenditure was ultimately approved with no suggestion or evidence of repayment for spouses – a violation of Board policy and perhaps a “gift of public funds.” The same expense report submitted by the Superintendent included at least two additional meals with Board members – an itemized receipt was not provided for one, and both exceeded per diem rates. No form of receipt or attendee list was produced for a fourth meal in the amount of $57.32. [More details here]
  • On 12/3/15, the Superintendent and Board members attended the California School Boards Association (CSBA) conference in San Diego, CA. For dinner that evening, the Superintendent expensed a dinner for $481.33 at the Marriott Marina’s Kitchen. The receipt was hand-marked “Board dinner.” She did not submit an itemized receipt as required, but one was obtained elsewhere. The receipt shows that 10 entrees were ordered, including three orders of the steak special at $42 each. A service charge in the amount of $65.16 was added to the bill. On the receipt, the Superintendent added an additional $20 tip. Besides the Superintendent and Board members, it is unknown who else attended the lavish dinner at the District’s expense. [More details here]

These incidents are not exceptions, but patterns, in the way the District manages taxpayers’ funds and violates both Board policy and procedure.

The District’s Board Policy 3350 states, “All out-of-state travel for which reimbursement will be claimed shall be approved in advance by the Board. …. The district shall not reimburse personal travel expenses including, but not limited to, tips or gratuities, alcohol, entertainment, laundry, expenses of any family member who is accompanying the employee on district-related business, … Reimbursement of travel expenses shall be based on actual expenses as documented by receipts.”

The District’s Travel Procedures policy dated August 1, 2011 states:  Travel and conference reservations should be processed through the Purchasing Department. Reimbursement for taxi, shuttle, rental car, or parking requires an itemized receipt. Meals will be reimbursed on a per diem basis, up to a maximum of $42 per day. Breakfast will be reimbursed at the rate of $7.00, lunch at the rate of $14.00, and dinner at the rate of $21.00. Actual receipts must be submitted if claiming reimbursement for more than one person and should list the name of each person.

These egregious exceptions to policy suggest a breach of fiduciary duty by the Board of Trustees and Superintendent. The poor example they set breeds immune behavior to principles of integrity, compliance, and fiscal restraint by personnel throughout the District.

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