Amid financial questions, Durham superintendent resigns
Posted December 19, 2013
Updated December 20, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Eric Becoats announced his plan Thursday night to resign as superintendent of Durham Public Schools effective Dec. 31, 2013. He has been under scrutiny in recent months for financial management missteps that range from the use of a school bus to transport family and friends to the underestimate, by $15 million, of the school system budget.
In August, the Durham County Board of Education reprimanded Becoats for his use of a district school bus and driver to take his family and friends to private events.
In November, the board ended a policy of issuing credit cards for employee business expenses after a review of Becoats' bills showed thousands of dollars in personal charges over a period of about a year.
Just this week, Board Chairwoman Heidi Carter faulted Becoats' communication about the district budget.
"We presented a case that said we were poor," an embarrassed and angry Carter said Tuesday. "We were coming to the commissioners, saying the financial status of our district is that we have these extra needs and we have no where to turn to find the funding to meet those needs. Now, we find that actually we probably had ample funding to meet the needs we had built into our budget. That's disturbing to the Board of Education as well as to the commissioners."
A recent audit determined that the district's fund balance is $19.7 million, almost five times the $4 million level school board members believed it to be based on data Becoats provided.
Becoats came to Durham in April 2010 from the Guilford County Schools. Before that, he worked as a school administrator and planner for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Baltimore City Public Schools.
In a statement to the board after his resignation was accepted, Becoats thanked his supporters and others.
"Regardless of who sits in that chair of superintendent, there are three Cs that I would bring: Compromise, commitment and collaboration. That's what's required to move the district forward. My hope is that this community will continue to do that important work," he said.