Metro reimbursed questionable college courses for half-million dollars

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“The Tuition Reimbursement Program is one way that Metro invests in its employees and in its future,” spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said in a statement. “Employees are eligible for reimbursement for classes that support the pursuit of a degree, including electives and requirements for other classes.”

Some Metro workers did enroll in courses that seemingly could advance their careers. A transit police officer, for example, took a $3,154 Introduction to Policing class at Westwood College. A purchasing agent took a $1,945 course from Strayer on business strategies and proposals.

But many courses paid for by Metro had no relationship to professions, such as courses on video games and black history, one of the more commonly taken courses.

Among the multiple people who had Metro foot the bill for classes on parenting was Robbie O. McGee, a repeat felon who was promoted rapidly to a high-level management position shortly after being released from 12 years in federal prison for dealing PCP.

Workers in a wide variety of positions also took courses that indicated minimal grasp of basic skills. A Metro project management analyst took Fundamentals of Writing and Grammar at the University of Maryland University College. A mechanic took Speech 1000 at Prince George’s Community College, while others took basic English.

Limited literacy was on display even on the forms, sometimes filled out by midlevel managers. A manager of bus service operations, for example, took “Element of Supervision” at Prince George’s Community College and filed for reimbursement because “this course have eqqptd me in forming my duties as a manager, and have helped better prepared me for the position of Superintendent.” He was seeking a promotion from a $78,000 job to an $89,000 job, payroll records suggest.

One Metro employee applied for reimbursement for courses at prestigious Villanova University, a Catholic school in the Philadelphia area — but he misspelled the name of the school as “Villinova.”

At least one course, frustrated riders might suggest, was much-needed for the improvement of job performance. One station manager took a $1,500 course at the Sanford Brown Institute called “human relations.”

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