Dinner cruises. Fried chicken and biscuits. Theater performances. A mother/daughter makeover.
Such were activities that Baltimore City Schools spent using federal stimulus and Title I funds, a federal audit discovered.
WJZ13 spoke to Baltimore City Schools CEO Andres Alonso; he downplayed the “errors.”
“Anytime there’s an audit of Title I dollars, you’re going to see errors at the school level because schools spend money for what they need, and then sometimes they worry about if it fits the parameter of the grant later,” Alonso said.
“We’re talking $15 million out of $112 million, and what we see are school events to engage parents, but when the auditors came to look at it they said, ‘Wait a second. This should have been paid out of general funds, rather than Title I,” said Alonso.
The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing 2009 and 2010 expenses that showed more than $4,300 were spent on dinner cruises…
…more than $2,400 for fried chicken and biscuits at a PTA meeting to discuss the budget…
…$1,300 to attend a theater performance, and $500 on a mother/daughter makeover.
“I’m appalled this sort of stuff is going down because you can’t educate the children by taking things for your own pleasures,” said George Downs.
“It’s mismanagement. It’s negligent,” said Pat McDonough (R) of the Maryland House of Delegates.
The victims, according to state lawmakers, are Maryland taxpayers and Baltimore City school children.
“Funding for some of Baltimore’s neediest children was simply squandered and transparency requirements were completely disregarded. This abuse of tax dollars is one example of why many Americans mistrust government,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger in a statement.
“Who’s responsible? There needs to be a serious investigation,” said McDonough.
“Of course we don’t want schools to make mistakes, but I think error is a little different than the way it’s being portrayed,” said Alonso.
Here’s the full report from WJZ13: