A former school superintendent in North Carolina spent more than $9,000 of federal money intended for at-risk students on inflatable bounce houses, according to a new state audit.
Washington County Schools superintendent Joe Davis isn’t named in the new audit, but he led the school district during the period the audit covers, making him the only candidate for the wrongdoing. Davis resigned his position in North Carolina in 2015 to become the superintendent in Ferguson, Mo., the town rocked by riots following Michael Brown’s death.
According to the audit, Davis spent more than $94,000 of district money without documenting a business purpose and without getting prior approval from the school board. Since Davis was only in charge for 33 months, his improper spending amounts to nearly $3,000 a month, well above the regulated per diem rate. Besides huge sums spent on traveling and food, Davis’s expenses include $1,120 spent at the Apple Store, $3,000 spent at Wal-Mart, more than $700 in late fees, and $32 spent on magazines purchased while traveling. While some of these expenses may have been legitimate, because Davis kept no records of them, it’s impossible to tell.
Most spectacularly, the audit says Davis misspent $15,800 in federal Title I and Title II funds allocated to improve schooling for poor and at-risk students. The misspent funds include $5,925 spent on food, $600 spent on a mobile video game trailer for an event, and $9,025 spent to have an inflatable bounce house at six different events.
Davis was advised by employees that the federal money was not supposed to be spent on entertainment, but the audit says he ignored these recommendations.
Still, Davis said in a statement that he did nothing wrong.
“I have no reservations about anything I spent,” he told the Associated Press. “I am a man of integrity, and I stand on what I do.”
Davis wasn’t the only person abusing taxpayer money. The audit says members of the school board also spent $40,000 on food and transportation without getting proper approval or demonstrating a clear business-related purpose.
The audit was prompted by an anonymous tip given to a state hotline.
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