Federal Audit of Maryland Department of Education Uncovers Dramatic Misuses of Stimulus Funds

State Republican Leadership Demands Accountability for Thousands of Recovery Dollars Spent on Pleasure Cruises, Expensive Gifts, and Extravagant Dinners

 Annapolis, Md. – In a January audit, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General revealed that a grand total of more than $700,000 of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 funds awarded to the State of Maryland to improve student academic achievement were used on unallowable, unsupported, or inadequately supported expenditures.

These expenditures included $4,352 spent by Baltimore City school personnel on two dinner cruises of the Inner Harbor, $8,736 spent on watches and specially imprinted gifts for a 2011 principals’ meeting in Prince George’s County, and $1,575 more than necessary spent to provide dinner at a Baltimore City school parent teacher association meeting.

“It is appalling that taxpayers’ money was spent to send teachers on these pleasure cruises,” said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin (Dist. 36 – Cecil).  “These dollars were supposed to put more teachers into our classrooms; instead, it’s putting them into cruise ship dining rooms.”

House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke (Dist. 31 – Anne Arundel) agrees, “When we have teachers reaching into their own pockets to pay for school supplies while their principals are spending thousands of dollars on watches, velvet pouches, and $222 pencil sharpeners, something is wrong with the system.  This is inexcusable.”

“What is also unreasonable is the exorbitant amount of money spent on these parent teacher association dinners,” commented Senate Minority Whip Ed Reilly (Dist. 33 – Anne Arundel).  “Baltimore City spent $99 per person on simple dishes like fried chicken, coleslaw, and cookies—money that could have been spent elsewhere educating our kids and getting more people back to work.”

“After all,” House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (Dist. 7 – Baltimore County) pointed out, “that’s the reason we were given this money in the first place: to create jobs and educate our children.  How does spending $3,500 on 150 customized folders create jobs?  How does the purchase of a microwave and mini-fridge for a bureaucrat’s personal use help kids learn?  How is letting teachers download and play Angry Birds or Words with Friends on their iPads a productive use of taxpayer dollars?”

In response to these findings, Maryland House and Senate Republican leadership will be looking into this matter further. They urge the Maryland Department of Education to comply with the recommendations of the Department of Education’s Inspector General to improve accountability systems for ARRA fund spending and accounting, and repay in full taxpayer dollars that were outrageously and inappropriately spent on lavish perks and frivolous items.

Click here for the Fox 45 News Story

Click here for a PDF of the official press release

Click here for the full-text report by the Inspector General

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