Superintendent for Deaf and Blind Schools Racked Up Travel Expenses, Audit Shows

The superintendent of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind was inappropriately reimbursed for thousands of dollars in travel expenses, according to state auditors.

The superintendent of ASDB, a state agency, is Robert Hill, who's been on leave for several weeks amid several complaints filed against him.

A pretty good rundown of the allegations against him (other than the excessive travel expenses) were published by the Arizona Republic a few months ago.

It includes allegations of unfair termination, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

As for excessive travel expenses, state auditors have backed up those claims.

According to the audit, school employees were reimbursed more than $9,600 for travel payments they shouldn't have gotten. Ninety-one percent of that money, $8,744, were reimbursements to Hill.

Each example of extra spending in the audit is aimed at Hill:

For example, at the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf, the Superintendent stayed one extra night in Hawaii and spent another night in Phoenix upon returning from Hawaii at an additional cost of $277 to the School.

For example, the Superintendent attended the National Summit on Deaf Education Conference in Austin, TX and was reimbursed for renting a car at a cost of $315 and paying $60 in parking fees when the conference center, hotel, and restaurants were within easy walking distance from one another.

For instance, during the Hawaii trip, the School reimbursed the Superintendent $48 for meals during the extra travel days before and after the conference where no business purpose for the additional meals had been documented.

The audit says this extra spending could be a violation of the Arizona Constitution:

Reimbursing employees for travel costs that do not comply with the State's travel policy may constitute a gift of public monies in violation of the Arizona Constitution. The State's travel policy specifically identifies the requirements, including documentation requirements, which must be followed for travel costs to be allowable. Travel costs that do not comply with those requirements may not have a valid public purpose, and the Arizona Constitution, Article 9, Section 7, prohibits spending public money without a public purpose. Consequently, spending public money for the noncompliant travel costs in Table 1 on page 5 may have been a gift of public monies that violated the Arizona Constitution.

All of these travel expenses were from July 2010 to March 2013. The audit suggests that the school "further research the noncompliant travel costs . . . and seek legal counsel to help identify and collect any required reimbursements."

In a letter attached to the audit, Assistant Superintendent William Koehler agrees with the findings.

Click here to check out the audit.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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