Local News

Durham Public Schools revokes district credit cards

Posted November 25, 2013

— Last month, Durham County school board members terminated the district-issued credit card for Durham Public Schools Superintendent Eric Becoats following thousands of dollars in questionable purchases.

On Monday, the school system decided to end the use of district credit cards for all employees as it continues to take a look at financial policies and procedures stemming from Becoats' misuse.

Board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said she hopes the latest step will help assure the public of the board's fiscal responsibility.

"We want the community to have a strong level of confidence in Durham Public Schools and the Board of Education," she said. "That's one reason we are taking this step today – to be very specific about how district resources can be used."

Chief Financial Officer Aaron Beaulieu told board members that the district can still operate through reimbursements, and he didn't rule out possible credit card use in certain cases.

Also Monday, Beaulieu presented new specific financial procedures and regulations regarding employee expenses, such as how much can be tipped at a restaurant or how much the school system will reimburse for the cost of Internet while traveling.

Durham Public Schools has four active credit cards that were all discontinued by Monday, district spokesman Chip Sudderth said.

Becoats' district credit card was reserved for business expenses, but a review of 331 pages of records belonging to his assigned credit card showed a variety of charges – from a couple hundred dollars to nearly $2,000 – for personal expenses from June 2012 to June 2013.

In August, Becoats was reprimanded for using a school bus to transport friends and family members to private events.

He is under contract until June 20, 2016, and has an annual salary of $195,700, plus a $600 allowance for in-county travel expenses.


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  • beach2011 Nov 27, 2013

    Good - I don't think he should still have his job. Needs to be in jail for misusing our tax dollars!!

  • barkleymaggie Nov 25, 2013

    This man has made unwise decisions time and time again but he still keeps his job. The morale around his office must stink and I feel sorry for the people he works with. They have probably been following the rules for years but now are wondering why not cheat the system like their boss. Nothing will be done about it.

  • Mr Davis Nov 25, 2013

    The school board is a joke. They were aware of Becoats malfeasance at his previous place of employment, yet they still hired him. Affirmative action at work people. Mayor Bell's silence as well as the City and County Commissions on this issue says this type of behavior is acceptable in Durham. Another shining star for Durham.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Nov 25, 2013

    westernwake1 - "So rather than firing the credit card abusers - they merely terminated the district-issued credit cards."

    It was my understanding he was one of the few who had one. I could be wrong though.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Nov 25, 2013

    SomeRandomGuy - "Couldn't using a business card for personal expenses be considered embezzlement? Get him out based on that, no buyout needed."

    Generally not on the first usage which may have been a mistake (though I doubt it).

    But once there is a signed and written notice in their personnel file that they were warned about it once and they do it again, it's possible.

    The question I have is, sure he repaid the funds, but did he reimburse the county for the finance fees the credit card company assessed on the amounts he used too?

    IMO, he was playing Big Shot with taxpayer dollars.

    So yeah, time to get him gone - past time!!!

  • westernwake1 Nov 25, 2013

    So rather than firing the credit card abusers - they merely terminated the district-issued credit cards.

  • lwe1967 Nov 25, 2013

    There is a crook in sheep's skin clothing everywhere. He was taking advantage.

  • aspenstreet1717 Nov 25, 2013

    Send him to Washington. His resume is complete!!

  • Big Willy Magnum Nov 25, 2013

    The first rule when you work for state government is You may not use state property for personal use. Most people are hard, diligent workers. Unfortunately, a few think they are above everyone else and can do as they please.

    Who takes their family to the mall on a school bus and think that is not wrong? It's like that episode of Seinfeld when George . . .

  • Inside The Beltline Nov 25, 2013

    "I would say it is time for Becoats to hit the road. Upon his departure, either make him pay back the wrongful charges or deduct it from his final pay check."

    I think the DPS Board is already thinking that as they are not extending his contract currently past it's end date. He did repay the funds, but I think there is a serious question about leadership here when he is using the wrong card for purchases. If he was confused about what he could use his card for, he should have used his and then submitted a request for reimbursement. This is a pattern for Becoats, however, as this is what happened in Charlotte Mecklenburg.