The D.C. school system misused money in several accounts and used public money to pay for personal meals, flowers and parking tickets, according to a draft report by the mayor's investigative office.
The inspector general's office report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is based on a review of three accounts holding a total of about $20,000. The money is available for small emergency purchases, to make change in school cafeterias and to provide school employees with salary advances if their regular checks are held up.
The inspector general's office, whose reports generally go to the mayor and are not made public, conducted a surprise audit of the three school accounts, known as "imprest funds," and found a series of irregularities, the report said.
The school system uses one $16,000 account to pay for purchases of up to $200 each, despite a city rule limiting each transaction to $50, the report said.
The audit found that the emergency fund was used to pay $1,950 and $1,610 to two consultants, to provide three travel advances of $216 each and to pay for a $300 buffet reception as part of an education convention.
And contrary to city rules, the school system moved $5,000 from one account to another and altered the purpose of an account without permission from the D.C. controller, the report said.
Rung Pham, controller of the school system, said the report is "a raw draft. It is the opinion of the inspector general. They can say anything they wish."
Pham defended the use of the funds, saying that the accounts have been used solely for necessary school business. Although some of the money was used to buy flowers and meals, he said, "there's nothing wrong with that as long as it's for legitimate purposes."
Pham said he did not know of any funds being used to pay for parking tickets. He declined to comment on the city's $50 limit on expenses charged to the emergency accounts.