Kane Co. (ECWd) -
Unit 46 School District is reported to be the second largest school district in the state. With size comes inherit over-site problems that are only compounded by elected officials that fail to understand they are the ones responsible for the taxpayer's money.
We were contacted, not contracted, to look into several issues pertaining to the use of public funds by officials at the district. I knew after the first FOIA response, transparency was not at the forefront of their thought process. An initial request for all credit card statements was met with a claim they didn't have any credit cards. They do acknowledge they have "P" cards (Purchasing cards), however, even those are Chase bank credit cards. Playing games with what you call a credit card was the first flag. More importantly, we now have evidence that points to a Master Card credit card yet they claimed they don't have credit cards. These discoveries are consistent with the tips we received!
School begins August 17th, 2015 and I can only wonder if Dunkin Donuts are going to be available to the children, or just the administration that spent $1,865.63 on them last school year. (Click here for Dunkin Donuts Summary)
Can anyone tell me, where in the School Code it authorizes spending taxpayer money on donuts? Did you know it is a constitutional requirement for all money spent by a school to be done so as authorized by law or ordinance? For the life of me I can't find anything authorizing school officials to purchase donuts for their pleasure.
Article VIII section (b) The State, units of local government and school districts shall incur obligations for payment or make payments from the public funds only as authorized by law or ordinance.
The Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Trisha Shrode, appears to be the primary purchaser of the donuts and I think most would agree donuts have nothing to do with Curriculum & Instruction, so maybe someone at the school could tell the public what is the PUBLIC PURPOSE of buying Dunkin Donuts? Surely there is a place $1,865.63 could be spent on education for the children instead of face-feeding by administration.
I referenced public purpose because that too is a mandate in our state constitution. Public funds, property, or credit shall only be used for public purpose.
That brings me to the next problem for U-46 to address. Public credit shall only be used for public purpose. That is pretty clear, yet records reflect that we have public officials using their "P" Card to purchase items on credit and then pay the school back for personal purchases, which means those purchases on credit were not for public purpose, thus a violation of our State Constitution.
When I asked for a copy of reimbursements to the school for personal purchase on the Chase credit card (purchasing card) the response was rather telling.
"Please note that the District does not maintain documents that differentiate personal reimbursements from business expenditure reimbursements on P-Card transactions."
The response should have been there are no personal purchases made on the credit card because that violates our state Constitution but as you will see, that was not the case. Instead we see that they don't maintain documents that differentiate personal reimbursements from business expenditures, which sure sounds like they KNOW those cards are being used for personal purchases.
In fact, not only do they know it, it appears an effort was made to make the copies so dark you can't make out who it is using public credit on the backs of the tax payer in some cases.
What did they spend your credit on?
- Dave Pena and Gina Piccirilli -No clue, just a check copy reimbursing for what ever they purchased.
- Kinisha Brown - No clue, just a check copy and it states reimbursement in the memo.
- Kinisha Brown - Gas, personal trip
- Mark Atkins - Baltimore Baseball Club
- Jeff King - No clue but he "claims" the purchase was personal and in error so he reimbursed the school.
- Katherin Ramona -No clue, check is so dark you can hardly read it.
- Alicia Kopec - Michaels store in Hoffmen Estates
- Dian Belton - No clue, check is so dark you can hardly read it.
- Karen Solie - Reimbursed the charges for the purchase of a farewell gift that was charged to the Board of eduction Master Card. (More on this to come because they claimed in the FOIA response they did not have ANY credit cards!)
- Jeff King - Again, No clue but he "claims" the purchase was personal and in error so he reimbursed the school.
- Jeff King - Yes, Again, No clue but he "claims" the purchase was personal and in error so he reimbursed the school.
- Alicia Kopec - Tolls in NY
- Brian & Magdalena Russ- Reimbursed the school regarding a trip to Nashville.
- Cant read the name - Eating places, barber, beauty shop
I wonder what part of Public credit shall only be used for public purpose they don't understand? As educators I would have thought they were smart enough to read the law pertaining to how they spend your money and followed it, but I digress, because it is clear there are much larger problems yet to be exposed.
In regards to the documents they sent me on these reimbursements, it is concerning to find that in each and every reimbursement check provided, there was not a single signature redacted. I don't know about most people but I sure don't want my signature being provided in public records, especially when some of those signatures appear on public checks that make it much easier for people to duplicate a check and forge the signature. This very thing happen in Iroquois County because of a public check issued and signature not redacted.
The documents below have ALL signatures, home address, and personal phone number redacted now as we always do our best to ensure private information such as this are protected even though the school did not redact such information. (Another problem for the School Board to address! )
Topics to cover in future articles?
- U-46 claims they have no credit cards yet not only is a "P" card a credit card, the very documents provided now point to a Master Card of which they DID NOT provide statements for!
- Administrator using P cards for personal purchases in California with no board approval.
- More illegal spending on the P-cards by U-46 officials.
Documents provided by U-46 can be viewed below.
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