Durham schools chief to explain spending in special meeting
Posted October 16, 2013
Durham, N.C. — The Durham Public Schools Board of Education has called a special meeting to discuss unexplained charges on the school system credit card issued to Superintendent Eric Becoats, board chairwoman Heidi Carter said Wednesday.
Becoats' use of the card has been suspended pending the meeting.
Carter would not release details about the types of charges on the card, but said the meeting – which will likely happen on Monday – will be a chance for Becoats to explain the activity.
WRAL News reviewed the 331 pages of credit card statements, which show a variety of charges from June 2012 to June 2013.
The card, which has a $10,000 limit, had charges ranging from a couple hundred dollars to nearly $2,000.
WRAL News found two hotel minibar charges for alcohol – Tanqueray gin – on Jan. 25. Durham Public Schools' spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson says Becoats disputed the Tanqueray charges and they were later taken off the bill.
Pearson said there were other charges on the card that were "of a personal nature" and that the superintendent reimbursed the school system.
The card is typically used for business expenses, including hotel costs, plane tickets and more.
Carter said Monday's meeting regarding the charges on the credit card will likely be a chance for the board to discuss financial control on the card and what types of charges are acceptable.
One option, Carter said, is to get rid of the card altogether. She said previous superintendent Carl Harris didn't use a school system-issued credit card.
Becoats released a statement Wednesday, saying he welcomes "the opportunity to sit down with members of the Board and talk about ways to improve the financial oversight of the district credit card and other expenses."
"Ideally, such a conversation will lead to better management and stronger policies for the district. It is always my intent to work closely with the Board to address any concerns they may have," he added.
Becoats was reprimanded on Aug. 1 for using a school bus and driver in July to take his friends and family to private events, including a trip to The Streets at Southpoint. Becoats paid for the trip in full, but the board said his actions violate policy.
Becoats earned his bachelor’s degree in business and accounting from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He earned a master’s degree in financial planning from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and an educational leadership doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.