Montgomery County Public Schools announced today that the office of the Maryland State Prosecutor has closed its investigation into credit card usage by Montgomery County Board of Education members and found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing.
Investigators from the Office of the State Prosecutor reviewed expense reports and documentation from board members, office staff, and the district's senior leadership. State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt notified the district in a letter on Monday that his office had closed its investigation and thanked the district for its cooperation throughout the process.
On July 28, the Board of Education approved sweeping changes to expense procedures, including the elimination of district-issued credit cards to Board members and clearer protocols on what expenses will and will not be allowed.
Among the changes, which went into effect directly after the July 28 meeting, included Board members no longer using district-funded credit cards and will instead; receive a per diem allowance when attending professional conferences. The Board will also employ a new process for determining which public events, conferences, and meetings that Board members can attend at the district’s expense.
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 district-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.
“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.
“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.”
The Board had come under fire in June when a News4 Washington investigation reported that Board members where spending thousands of dollars on meals and fancy hotel rooms while attending education conferences in Washington D.C, and passing those expense on to taxpayers. Prior to July’s policy changes there had not been a limitation on what could be submitted as work expenses.