Education

Durham schools chief to explain spending in special meeting

Posted October 16, 2013

— 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.

Durham Public Schools Superintendent Eric Becoats Durham schools chief to explain credit card spending

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. 

Hired in April 2010, Becoats is under contract until June 30, 2016, and is paid $195,700 annually. He also receives $600 a month for in-county travel expenses.

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.

73 Comments

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  • alwaysconcernedmom Oct 18, 4:40 p.m.

    "No morals or ehtics here. Bad example for our kids too. Too much ego - thinks he can do it because "he's the man." Take card away. Then tell him Strike one was the bus, this is strike two, next time he's out." penny for your thoughts

    Why should he be given chances with OUR money and OUR kids and OUR future? Seriously? These types of comments are what is wrong with our society and schools.

    The FIRST time he was caught stealing he should have been fired. End of chances!

  • alwaysconcernedmom Oct 18, 4:35 p.m.

    This guys needs to be arrested and fired! I am glad I do not have children in the public school system anymore. This is the best they could find to to be a chief?

    He is stealing from the kids :( So sad....

  • jackflash123 Oct 17, 5:43 p.m.

    "Why doesn't WRAL dig into this guy they way they constantly do the Govenor?"

    Are you seriously asking why a news organization that covers the entire state doesn't go after the school superintendent of a single school district in the same way they go after the highest elected state official?

  • stymieindurham Oct 17, 1:08 p.m.

    Why doesn't WRAL dig into this guy they way they constantly do the Govenor?????

  • Titus Pullo Oct 17, 1:06 p.m.

    Get rid of the card.

  • mramorak Oct 17, 8:08 a.m.

    your on to something dirtydozen431!!!

  • WralCensorsAreBias Oct 16, 6:38 p.m.

    this guy is as crooked as every member of the wake county board. none of them do a thing for the children. it's all about themselves.

  • Barfly Oct 16, 5:54 p.m.

    It's free, free, free...woohoo !!!

  • whatelseisnew Oct 16, 4:50 p.m.

    This guy should be fired. He should have been fired right after the school bus incident. It is simply amazing how many people holding public jobs will just abuse their positions. Does not matter the political affiliation, somehow these folks just seem to develop an attitude that they can do whatever they want to do.

  • penny for your thoughts Oct 16, 3:14 p.m.

    Just because he has letters after his name doesn't mean he has morals....

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