School board member confesses to misuse of credit card

This unusual confession from Courtney English, an at-large member of the Atlanta Board of Education, arrived late last night:

Dear Atlanta Community Member,

As an elected member of the Atlanta Board of Education, I’ve made a mistake and I hope you will accept my apology.

I did not fully understand the terms of use of a credit card issued to me by the Atlanta Public Schools. I misinterpreted a document that accompanied the credit card when it was issued to me. I mistakenly thought I could use the credit card for personal use as long as I immediately reimbursed the district for any charges incurred.

This is not the policy. I never should have made any personal purchases, period.

I am responsible for $855.83 of disallowed charges made to the credit card between May 29 and June 30, 2010. These charges included an airline ticket, food, gratuities, hotel charges, and other sundries. On July 14, 2010, I reimbursed the district in full for all disallowed charges.

I apologize for this mistake. I take seriously my responsibilities as an elected school board member. I will never make this mistake again.

Sincerely,

Courtney English

Board of Education Seat 7

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87 comments Add your comment

chefdavid

July 31st, 2010
10:58 am

I do not know anything about her but, my hat is off to her.

Jim Galloway

July 31st, 2010
11:08 am

Actually, Courtney English is a fellow.

td

July 31st, 2010
11:18 am

She should have sent in her resignation letter as well.

Jimmy Mac

July 31st, 2010
11:23 am

Any person who is on the “Board of Education” and doesn’t UNDERSTAND doesn’t need to be on the board!!!!
Actions speak LOUDER than words, so please do us all a favor and LEAVE the BOE for people who will and do understand!

Steve

July 31st, 2010
11:23 am

There is nothing commendable about this apology, and it appears to be nothing more than the standard excuse. How does a person at that level NOT know that personal charges won’t be against policy, especially in a city like Atlanta? Even where there is doubt, why does one not ask first? That takes basic common sense, whether it is the school board, a company credit card, or any other card issued by someone else. This person got caught and had to do some PR. No more, no less. It is a basic lack of judgment that permeates Atlanta/Fulton elected and appointed positions.

Lynn43

July 31st, 2010
11:27 am

Why does a school board member need a school credit card? I’ve been a school board member for many years, we receive no salary or expense money, and I have never needed a credit card. Any expenses or donations I incur for the school system, I consider a contribution. Purchases and expenses would need to follow financial policies, and just spending without following these policies is not responsible, but maybe APS has different financial policies than my system, but neither do we have a financial problem.

Aquagirl

July 31st, 2010
11:57 am

Sent late on a Friday night? Methinks Courtney hoped it would slip through the cracks as much as possible.

Sounds like somebody got busted.

Billy Joe Poteet

July 31st, 2010
12:20 pm

This apology sounds as if someone else planned to make it public. He/she is making an attempt to get “on top of it”. I would imagine that this person would not be making the apology if no one else knew about it.

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 31st, 2010
12:28 pm

Oh, my God! I say, hang Courtney English! Impound his house, cars, bank accounts, and his salvage business! This is an egregious violation of Ethics Rules! I want to know what Commissioner Graham has to say about this!

As an IT Professional for 24 years, working for three different companies, I always had a company credit card. Since I was required to pay the bill every month, I used it for personal expenses. I would then submit an expense report to the company in order to recoup company expenditures. This is common practice in the private sector, folks. Give me a break…..

Ebenezer Snerdberg

July 31st, 2010
12:32 pm

Should be shot at twenty (20) paces…with paper wads! I’m well over 60 and change. I’ve hated school boards all my life. This is one reason!

Jasmine

July 31st, 2010
12:45 pm

Where’s Elgart? Where’s Elgart?

Policy Guy

July 31st, 2010
12:45 pm

Or you could work for the University System of Georgia. We have to use our personal credit cards for work travel. If the university is slow in reimbursing, you have to pay it yourself or incur interest – which they will not pay,

Geez

July 31st, 2010
12:49 pm

BeyondTheRhetoric,

Why must people in the “private” sector always try to compare themselves to the “public” sector? I don’t give a rats behind how you guys do it. Those are our rules and he broke them.

Richard

July 31st, 2010
12:49 pm

Got caught, now didn’t understand, re paid. Same old story.

Jim

July 31st, 2010
12:52 pm

ChefDavid, you are proud of her? Get real. She never would have come forward without her getting caught with her hand in the cookie jar. The charges were “disallowed” so she figured she had better fess up! Had the charges gone through okay then that would have been the end of it. She is on the board and she does not understand the policy on the card – B S !
Nothing will be done to her – “just do not do it again” and all is well in Gangland Atlanta.

Logic 88

July 31st, 2010
12:53 pm

Dear BeyondTheRhetoric,

Not at my job…we are only allowed to use the credit card for company expenses. If someone mistakenly uses the company credit card, they must reimburse the company immediately.

Logic 88

July 31st, 2010
12:55 pm

ATTENTION….Courtney English is a MAN not a woman.

Right on!

July 31st, 2010
1:05 pm

Wow a southerner taking responsibility and holding himself accountable, I think this is a first!

Aquagirl

July 31st, 2010
1:06 pm

Uh, ppl, it’s a HE. Jim already pointed that out.

From his website: “Courtney is also serves as a member of the school’s Disciplinary Committee where he directly addresses the ethical, psychological and personal needs of students.” Wow, there’s a firm disciplinarian. Minus 10 for crappy grammar too. So, Courtney can’t read, write, or act ethically. This is Atlanta’s elite, folks.
http://www.englishforeducation.com/englishdefined.html

Brooke

July 31st, 2010
1:07 pm

Courtney English only did this because the media was getting wind of it. My kids will not be going back to their school (which also happens to be on the list for cheating), this past year has been a big ole mess.

SMT

July 31st, 2010
1:08 pm

I know Courtney (although not well), and I think he was trying to do the right thing here. He does take his position and responsibilities seriously. He’s also pretty young — still in his 20s, I think. But he has an impressive record so far. After the recent happenings with Shirley Sherrod, let’s not rush to judgment until we know all the facts.

Mark

July 31st, 2010
1:08 pm

Much ado about nothing. Happens all the time in business. Who cares as long as he paid it back immediately.

heavenly creature

July 31st, 2010
1:16 pm

Ramzad

July 31st, 2010
1:19 pm

Somebody coming clean about a mistake, bad judgment, an intention to steal- whatever.
That is always refreshing.

Yet, some of you who are probably in positions of trust and probably stealing someone’s
eyes out want to pass judgment. Of course, it is about Atlanta, and Atlanta is dirty, so you
get more raw meat.

God has some special kind of fire for Georgia when he comes.

Andre

July 31st, 2010
1:34 pm

Courtney this is sad and disappointing. I really hate to see the AJC put you out like this so people can jump and pre-judge you this way. Since I met you in high school, I knew you were a smart, great guy. You deserve a 2nd chance, just reimburse the money back to the system and let’s move on and get the job done.

Rich

July 31st, 2010
1:36 pm

Not a big deal, no governement money was taken or use incorrectly. He amdited an error. As long as it does not happen again, it should disappear.

JoeV

July 31st, 2010
1:36 pm

Logic88

ATTENTION…Courtney English’s parents shouldn’t have given him a girl’s name! ;-)

Ramzad,

How typically Christian of you to pass judgement on an entire state. Awesome.

JoeV

July 31st, 2010
1:38 pm

Andre,

Did you read his letter???

“On July 14, 2010, I reimbursed the district in full for all disallowed charges.”

catlady

July 31st, 2010
1:38 pm

I am not “refreshed.” He should step down. He just needed a little loan, that’s all, for the trip, but should have gone to a bank. It’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.

state employee

July 31st, 2010
1:41 pm

Didn’t know my eye…..

MA

July 31st, 2010
1:45 pm

Life Lesson Courtney:
There are consequences to our bad choices in life.

Stop and smell the roses

July 31st, 2010
1:47 pm

Any corporate card issued is for business use only and I dont buy the sorry crap at all. He tried to get away with something and it didnt work. He needs to go. People need to be replaced at any sign of correption and theft is the first sign. They not stupid but they sure think the general public is.

Jefferson Jackson

July 31st, 2010
1:51 pm

I strongly endorse the “one mistake” rule. As long as it doesn’t happen again, cut him some slack.

jim Edu-PAC on line 2

July 31st, 2010
1:52 pm

Great job jim! Look at all the responses! And not one of them picks up that you have completely ignored the E-Rate scandal, and the CRCT cheating scandal! It goes without saying that we need you to continue to pretend those two scandals don’t exist, because to discuss them would bring questions about what Beverly Hall knew and when did she know it, and we can’t have that.

Courtney English however, is expendable.

Isn’t hysterical how people responding don’t even have a clue what your end game is here?

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 31st, 2010
1:55 pm

Perhaps the Atlanta Board of Education should rewrite the policy to resemble private sector, common sense, guidelines. If the person holding the card is responsible for paying the bill and then submitting an expense report, the chances of mistakes or abuse is virtually eliminated. When will the government wake up and run the Bureaucracy like a business. Businesses survive based upon profit, not taxes…….

sickofmorons

July 31st, 2010
1:57 pm

whether it’s private industry or government or whether you are 20 years old or 50 years old – if you don’t know your employers credit card is for business use only, you are either a thief or a complete idiot

ron jackson

July 31st, 2010
2:06 pm

I think this shows the naiveté of Mr. English and perhaps he is not mature enough to serve on the school board. For the sake of any future political career and the children of Atlanta (particularly considering the other scandals with the board and individual schools), Courtney should resign immediately.

Federal Employee

July 31st, 2010
2:08 pm

The federal government has clear and specific rules about the use of government issued credit card. And federal employees who do not follow those rules are terminated from employment. They are not allowed to “pay it back” and “write an apology” and keep their job. They are fired. As they should be. Just as this BoE member should be. There is no explaining or excusing this misuse of taxpayer money. None.

Scooter

July 31st, 2010
2:17 pm

“Right On!”, What the he11 does being a southerner have to do with anything? That has to rank up there with the stupidest comments of the week. You’re a DA, and I don’t mean district attorney.

the ever gullible people

July 31st, 2010
2:23 pm

The gullibility of the people responding is beyond belief. This school board appoints a “blue ribbon” commission of people to “investigate” the CRCT cheating scandal, and sits in silence knowing all the while that half of those asked to “investigate” have business dealings with Atlanta Public Schools.

The board chair, who is also a member of this commission has come out in advance of this “investigation” trying to run interference for one of the people she should be investigating, Supt. Hall, by saying that it is impossible for Beverly Hall to have known about cheating.

jim galloway the self proclaimed “insider” knows all of this, but doesn’t have the journalistic integrity to mention any of it on his blog. But let him throw out the expendable Courtney English as a red herring and you devour it like shark devours chum.

Are these posters really this easily manipulated?

blah

July 31st, 2010
2:27 pm

Rangel, Maxine Waters, Courtney, etc, etc, etc, notice any similarities?

Law Now

July 31st, 2010
2:30 pm

She broke the law and should be fired and prosecuted. No special favors for connected board members, no matter what “letter of confession” she writes. Remember: zero tolerance in schools, so enforce the laws equally and immediately.

AAA

July 31st, 2010
2:34 pm

Who cares…..if the personal purchases are paid for it should not matter. Keep it moving!

athensjack

July 31st, 2010
2:38 pm

I have no sympathy for any type of elected official/politician that makes a monetary mistake that costs the tax payers money and then claims it was a mistake, it was sloppy bookkeeping, etc. If I make a mistake on my income tax return for instance, I can’t claim I made a mistake….the government penalizes me and that’s the end of that. Elected officials/politicians think they’re above the law in many instances and are playing the public for fools. I have no sympathy for these clowns and think they should be penalized too.

ragman

July 31st, 2010
2:42 pm

Unfortunately, credit cards are passed out by the government like keys to the executive washroom. Only the people who truly need them should have them for emergency purchases.while non emergency items should be approved prior to purchase.

With all the misuse of credit cards over the past few years, everyone with them should know that using them for their own personal use is the same as theft of tax payers money and should be charged accordingly.

the ever gullible people

July 31st, 2010
2:49 pm

English is wrong, period.

But to the bigger issue: The posters here really, truly cannot see how galloway is manipulating you by throwing out sacrificial lamb English as a red herring to distract from the fact he won’t talk about the E-Rate or CRCT scandals, and how the board has acted less than ethically by naming a committee to “investigate” full of members who have business dealings with APS?

People who read an “insider” column are really this gullible?

godoggo

July 31st, 2010
2:55 pm

Testing 1,2,3…is this thing working ?

godoggo

July 31st, 2010
2:58 pm

Why can we not hire “public sector employees” and have them sign a waiver that they can be fired without any form of concession and payment. An appeal can be filed within 10 days of firing, and settled within 30 days of action by an impartial jury of CITIZENS. Any impropriety, theft, or inappropriate misbehavior will be grounds for dismissal ?

~

Alabama Communist

July 31st, 2010
3:10 pm

Credit Cards are to be use! Ask the Federal Reserve System and the Chinese Peoples Goldman Sucks MasterCard……..

workingstiff

July 31st, 2010
3:10 pm

I didn’t make enough money, so I routinely used to use my company-issued CC for all kinds of personal expenses, including airline tickets and a computer. Eventually, the charges were paid. I only stopped when the company sent out a memo saying the card was for business use only.