Baltimore Schools use Federal Money for Cruises, Makeovers

Image: Baltimore Schools use Federal Money for Cruises, Makeovers John Eager Howard Elementary School in Baltimore. Some of Baltimore's more dilapidated schools suffer from leaky pipes, undrinkable water and inadequate heating and air conditioning.

Monday, 27 May 2013 08:39 AM

By Audrey Hudson

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Maryland educators used $540,000 in federal stimulus money for dinner cruises, makeovers, and meals instead of helping students in some of the state’s poorest schools.

The inspector’s general audit found that $4,350 designated for the state’s poorest children were instead spent on cruises in Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor for staff and parents, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Auditors broke down one meal costing more than $2,000 at a parent-teacher meeting to show an average cost of $99 per parent for a plate of fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, biscuits, cookies and soda.

Nearly $1,400 was spent for theater tickets, dinner and dancing, and $500 were used for a mother and daughter makeover day at an elementary school.

One school district spent more than $5,000 for face painters, balloons and a steel orchestra.

“Obviously, no matter whether it's state, local or federal dollars, the taxpayers should know exactly where their money's going and exactly what it's spent on,” said Del. Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., a Baltimore Democrat. “I don't think when President [Barack] Obama set aside money to stimulate the economy and improve education that it was meant for a makeover.”

The controversial school spending comes on the heels of another federal investigation of more than a dozen Baltimore female corrections officers who are accused of helping the Black Guerilla Family gang run a smuggling operation of drugs, cellphones and other contraband behind bars. The investigation says the same gang leader impregnated four of the female officers, the Washington Post reported.

Both scandals threaten to cast a pall over Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s planned run for president in the 2016 election.

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