I know you’re not surprised anymore. I’m not surprised. Milwaukee Public Schools officials spent district money to go to a conference in Philadelphia, and the employees didn’t even attend the conference.
The problem is that when you’re wasting thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to do it, someone needs to be held accountable. I’m not surprised at this. MPS teachers don’t even go to the annual “convention” that they’re supposed to attend. A few peons show up and fraudulently sign in for others who don’t go. So it’s clear that cheating in regards to conferences/seminars is a systemic problem in MPS.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today that about $2,400 was spent to send school board members Charlene Hardin and Lolita Pearson, a secretary at Milwaukee High School of the Arts, to Philadelphia in July for the National Association of School Safety & Law Enforcement Officers conference.
But they didn’t attend the 3 day conference, according to the organizers. In addition to skipping the conference, they completely embarrassed us. The conference ran from July 14 to 16, and they never even checked in to get their registration materials.
Conference organizers say that on the last day of the conference:
Joe Ricci, a Philadelphia school administrator who helped plan the event, was at the registration table when Hardin and Pearson arrived on the final day of the conference.
At first, Hardin complained loudly that the staff had run out of conference bags, which contained zoo passes, city information and discounts for various items, Ricci said.
“Then she proceeded to go into the vendors’ area, get some plastic bags from them, help herself to a ton of food and cookies and candy and all that stuff from the snack tray, and proceeded to walk out the door again, making another big stink about the thing, and left,” Ricci said, estimating that the pair were there for all of five minutes.
“She never checked in . . . or showed up at any conference functions at all, her or her assistant.”
So what do we do about this? I think the easiest solution is to stop funding these conferences all together. MPS has been in a downward spiral for a long time, and these junkets aren’t helping.
In this particular situation, the employees should be required to reimburse the district for the cost of the trip and receive disciplinary action. These things happen because employees know it is tolerated and condoned. It will take swift disciplinary action to show others that they’re not allowed to cheat the district and the taxpayers.