Monday, June 2, 2014

Unofficial Press Release on Financial Issues by Board of Education Member in Montgomery County

At the Parents Coalition, we only post verifiable material.  We like the facts, so that folks can decide for themselves.

That's why this unusual "press release" that crossed our inbox today is posted with a caveat.

Note - it's not on Board of Education letterhead.  It doesn't have a contact person - don't these usually have a contact person?  This blogger isn't sure that it's a bona fide statement from the BOE leaders.  

But it's interesting in view of the Washington Post article and the ongoing allegations about candidate for county council and current BOE member Chris Barclay.

Board of Education Leaders Issue Statement on Use of Credit Cards by Board Members

A statement from Board of Education President Phil Kauffman and Vice President Patricia O'Neill:

The Board of Education takes very seriously its responsibility to oversee Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in an ethical and fiscally responsible manner. The Board works diligently to ensure that the taxpayer resources provided to the school system are used in a manner that promotes high-quality educational opportunities for our students.

Board of Education members are issued credit cards to cover certain expenses they incur while conducting official Board business. Recent public interest in the usage of credit cards by Board members has emphasized the necessity to review our processes and procedures to ensure that these cards are being used in an appropriate manner.

An ad-hoc committee composed of the Board officers and Board Member Michael Durso, chair of our Fiscal Management Committee, was formed in April. The committee has been charged with reviewing the Board’s processes and guidelines regarding reimbursable expenses.  The committee will make recommendations to the full Board for adoption and implementation. The committee’s work will also include a review of the Board’s expenses for the last two years in order to inform its forward-looking recommendations, as well as a review of the appropriateness of these expenditures under our policies.

The committee has requested, and all Board members have agreed, to suspend usage of their MCPS-issued credit cards while the committee conducts its work.

We are aware that MCPS has received a number of public requests for documents related to the usage of credit cards. Staff is diligently locating and reviewing the responsive documents and will produce the relevant materials.

If it's true - here are some thoughts.

Why is the Board of Education only posting this now?  The story about Mr. Barclay has been around for a few weeks.  The ad hoc committee was formed a few months ago, and allegedly has met, although public notice under the Open Meeting Act is not on the Board of Education website.  

But - suspending credit card usage is long overdue.  Remember, the Board of Education is a part time position.  How many of us receive credit cards from our full time employer?  From our part time employer?

Also overdue is suspending the credit cards for the numerous other MCPS employees.  If the school system isn't going to provide adequate oversight over public moneys, it's just too tempting to keep this practice going.  Time to go back to centralized purchasing.

And, please - get rid of the meal subsidies for MCPS top brass.  School system business and meetings should be conducted at school facilities and in the public view, not at restaurants. Take a half hour break for lunch at the Carver cafeteria or brown bag it, but please pay your own way.  

At the Parents Coalition, we've looked into credit card abuses for a long time.  Finally, someone is paying attention.


  1. The announcement was released on the MCPS website June 2, 2014:

    1. Oh, now. Now it is on the MCPS website. It wasn't yesterday when it was released to the press.


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