The Washington Post

Montgomery schools official to repay district for purchases listed in expense reports

Expense account records show that a deputy schools superintendent in Montgomery County charged $486 to her publicly funded credit card for a computer bag and leather computer carry-all.

Records released this month show that Kimberly A. Statham, deputy superintendent for teaching, learning and programs, bought the items in May 2013, during a trip to Chicago for a conference.

The expense account practices of Montgomery’s school system leaders — including purchases like Statham’s — are now under close review as the county school board is examining the system’s use of district-issued credit cards. Statham’s spending was first publicized by the Parents’ Coalition, a Montgomery watchdog group that pushes for greater government transparency.

According to district records obtained by The Washington Post, Statham paid $244 for the carry-all tote bag at a Michigan Avenue store. On the same day, at the same store, she bought a second computer bag for $242, according to the records.

Both items appear on her American Express statement, a bill the district pays.

In an e-mail to the Post, Statham said the purchases were “specifically to transport my work laptop, power cords, work files, and other work-related items to meetings as well as from work to my home where I continue working during evening hours.”

Statham said she would reimburse the district $486 for the two items. “I have been and continue to be vigilant about following all school system policies, procedures, and guidelines,” she wrote in the e-mail.

The development comes as a Montgomery school board committee is recommending changes in rules and procedures for spending by board members.

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr also has asked for a review of expenses and rules for the district’s senior staff members, Montgomery schools spokesman Dana Tofig said.

Statham said she is glad the review is underway and expects it to provide more clarity for staff. Regardless of the outcome, she said, she wants to repay the district to ensure there is “no question about my integrity as a school system official and leader.”

Both bags were for carrying laptops, tablets and files related to the four offices and special projects she supervises, Statham said. She said she had repeatedly needed to replace broken straps on personal bags because of the weight of the equipment and documents.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.

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