Taxpayers Irate Over Thousands In School Travel Expenses
Receipts Detail Suites, Limos, Fine Dining
Last Updated: 824 days ago
Wayne Township parents and taxpayers are voicing outrage after 6News revealed a former superintendent under fire for his $1 million retirement payout racked up more than $90,000 in travel expenses with school board members.Records obtained by 6News dating back to 2007 show that as the district cut $10 million from its budget and eliminated positions, Terry Thompson and school board members, most of whom are still with the district, traveled to conferences in San Francisco, San Diego and Orlando, Fla., 6News' Kara Kenney reported.Receipts show Thompson sometimes stayed in hotel suites and traveled in a stretch limousine. Other receipts show Thompson and board members ate meals at upscale restaurants, including a $906 brunch for 10 people, and had the district pay for things like sightseeing tours."As a taxpayer, it makes me angry. As a parent, quite frankly, it makes me sad," parent Julie Marvel said Friday. "I'm furious that he would have the nerve to do this when the school district is suffering."In Wayne Township, 70 percent of students are on free and reduced lunch, compared with 43 percent statewide and 45 percent for all state public schools."It's a little hard to take," said Randy Campbell, a retired Wayne Township teacher. "I find fault with Dr. Thompson . I also find a great deal of fault with the school board, the business manager of the school district and the lawyer responsible for the school district."6News' report also drew criticism on TheIndyChannel.com and the station's Facebook page."What a low life. He should have to pay back every dime!! How embarrassing," wrote wayneparent."I am willing to bet a few fieldtrip requests were declined due to a lack of funding. However, this fool is riding around in a limo," Jeffery White wrote on Facebook."How is this guy not either in jail or forced to pay back a majority of this money?" another commenter wrote. "This is the definition of abuse of power."Still, some said others beyond Thompson are to blame for an apparent pattern of excessive spending."It's not like he stole it. Whoever was supposed to monitor this stuff let it happen," a commenter wrote. "It's definitely wrong, but if Wayne Township let him spend, spend, spend and no one checked, they're to blame, too."School officials are expecting such a backlash from taxpayers at the board's Feb. 28 meeting that it has been moved to the Chapel Hill 7th/8th Grade Center Auditorium. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.Some taxpayers are expected to call for board members to resign, but Marvel has another idea."Those school board members should return that money to the district, because that's where the money belongs," she said. "Right now, the taxpayers need answers as to how they're going to fix this problem."The soonest any of the current board members are up for re-election is May 2012. It also appears likely that if any board members stepped down, existing board members would choose their replacements.Regarding the call for Thompson to step down from his current position as superintendent emeritus with the district, a move that could save taxpayers $200,000, his attorneys and the school system are still discussing an agreement, officials said.Thompson, new Superintendent Jeffrey Butts and the school board have yet to respond to 6News' request for an interview.