The Corner

“Our federal tax dollars at work.”

San Diego Unified officials now say it was a mistake to use the federal funds for the superintendent to attend a conference and pick up the bill for gourmet dinners.

Monday, June 8, 2009 | While schools froze their spending to survive a bruising budget crisis, San Diego Unified spent more than $2,000 in federal money for disadvantaged students to send Superintendent Terry Grier to a conference in Washington, D.C., including more than $550 for meals for Grier and other school district staff and trustees.

Staffers said the costs were reasonable and credited the March conference and lobbying with helping to steer stimulus money to San Diego schools. But Deputy Superintendent Chuck Morris, who approved the spending, now says charging the federal fund for the expenses was inappropriate and vowed to correct it when it was brought to his attention by voiceofsandiego.org late last week. Using the money to pay for Grier may have also violated federal rules that bar the funds from being used for lobbying.

— John J. Pitney Jr. is the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

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