Newton Schools superintendent repays money from use of district credit card

State auditors issued a finding for recovery against Newton Local Schools Superintendent Pat McBride in the district’s latest financial audit, saying a district credit card was used improperly to buy gift cards and for a personal purchase.

Auditors issued a finding for recovery from McBride for $2,070 in favor of the district’s general fund. The money was paid to the district by cash and check in January, according to the audit report for the Miami County school district released Tuesday.

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The report said McBride used the district credit card to purchase Christmas gifts — restaurant gift cards — for district employees and board members in 2018 and 2019. The district had a recognition policy, but the purchases did not fall under that policy, the report said.

“The board members were aware of the gift cards. It was felt by all that our policies covered them,” McBride said Tuesday. The intent was simply to say thank you to staff and was a longstanding practice at Newton and other districts, he said.

“We clearly understand it is not an acceptable practice going forward,” McBride said.

He also used the credit card for a personal purchase for $445, the report said. The purchase was not identified by the district as a personal purchase, the report said.

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The use of the credit card for the $445 purchase was at a silent auction at an Ohio High School Athletic Association Conference when McBride said he mistakenly used the district card instead of his own to buy motivational posters now on display at a district facility after he donated them, McBride said. The two credit cards looked alike, he said, adding, “I thought it was mine and was not aware it was the school credit card.” Once the mistake was discovered, the district reported it to auditors, he said.

The audit covered the period of July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019.

“The district should establish and implement procedures to verify that all purchases serve a proper public purpose and that district credit cards are used only for district-related purchases. Additionally, the district should consider modifying the existing recognition policy to require approval, by an appropriate district employee or official, of any purchase made by the superintendent if the purchase falls under this policy,” the audit report from the office of state Auditor Keith Faber said.

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