Prosecutors Find No Criminal Wrongdoing with School Officials Credit Card Use
Investigators from the Office of the State Prosecutor reviewed expense reports and documentation from Board members, office staff, and the school system’s senior leadership. State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt notified the school system in writing on Aug. 25 that his office had closed its investigation and thanked the district for its cooperation throughout the process, according to a release from Montgomery County Public Schools.
“Investigators have reviewed all the documentation submitted, to include credit card usage by the School Board, its staff and the County Schools’ Superintendent and his Deputies, and have concluded that the Board’s credit card use does not rise to the level of criminal misconduct. Accordingly the Office has closed its investigation,” Davitt’s letter to Karl A. Racine of Venable LLP reads.
On July 28, the Board of Education approved sweeping changes to expense procedures, including the elimination of school system-issued credit cards to Board members and clearer protocols on what expenses will and will not be allowed. The changes approved by the Board were recommended by an Ad Hoc Committee of the Board that reviewed expense protocols and procedures after concerns were raised about the use of school system-issued credit cards. The Ad Hoc Committee had outside counsel review two years of expenses reports and make recommendations based on the findings of that review.
Davitt’s wrote in the letter that the review by outside counsel and the changes made by the Board should “serve to clarify and revise board expenditure guidelines going forward.”
“We appreciate that the Office of the State Prosecutor closed its investigation after conducting a thorough review,” said Phil Kauffman, president of the Board of Education, who created the Ad Hoc Committee, in a press release. “This entire process did lead us to review and make significant changes to expense guidelines for Board members and make improvements to our internal processes and procedures,” Kauffman said. “The changes we have made provide more structure and transparency with regard to our expenses, while ensuring Board members still have the opportunity to engage their constituents and stay involved in local, state, and national conversations about education.”
Board member Rebecca Smondrowski said, “I’m very pleased that we can now close this chapter and focus on our work serving the families of Montgomery County.”