- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2001

The D.C. Board of Education spent tens of thousands of dollars on computer-related equipment for board use. Some board members took that equipment home and were asked in November to return the computers before the Christmas holidays. Most of those members lost their jobs after the new board was sworn in Jan. 2. Now several of those former school board members are playing voters (and taxpayers) for stupid.

One board member said she had not yet relinquished a fax machine because she cannot drive. Another said some of his computer equipment was stolen but he can't remember what, precisely, was stolen. Still another said his is boxed up and ready to be collected by the city. A fourth needs to clear her files off a computer and Palm organizer. A fifth said he was rolling out with a fax machine like the Pony Express. Two others would like to purchase the equipment from the school system, which sounds like a reasonable request.

Of course, this issue of returning government property hardly caught members by surprise. They knew they had lost their jobs when election results rolled in Nov. 7. They knew the equipment was paid for with tax dollars, and they knew they had to eventually return it. And, just in case of selective amnesia, they were reminded in a Nov. 28 memo from the board's secretary.

It would be good to see the former elected officials do the right thing and return what is lawfully government property. By the same token it wouldn't hurt if the D.C. Office of the Inspector General got to the bottom of this and other funny money problems over at the school board. One of those problems involves board members who spent tax dollars for hotels and questionable expenses but have yet to reimburse the city. After all, theft and fraud are, well, theft and fraud.


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