Former Jeannette superintendent ordered to pay district $1K reimbursement in ethics report

Renatta Signorini, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.
·2 min read

May 4—Jeannette City School District's former superintendent was ordered by the State Ethics Commission to pay $1,000 to the district in reimbursement for the personal use of public funds.

Matthew Hutcheson used a district procurement card to charge his wife's registration fee to a technology in education conference in Colorado and pay for a rental car they used for an extended vacation after the event ended, according to the commission's report.

Neither Hutcheson nor his wife, who was a classroom assistant in the district, were authorized by the school board to attend the conference in 2016.

Hutcheson could not be reached Tuesday.

He was hired by the district in 2011. He resigned in March 2018.

Ethics issues were made public later that year after a report from the state auditor general showed Hutcheson and his wife accepted a trip to a three-day California conference in January 2017. The travel was paid for by MIND Research Institute, which sold the district $4,350 in math computer software that Hutcheson authorized without board approval, according to the audit and the commission report.

About $1,600 in airfare and hotel accommodations were paid by the institute, according to the commission report. Hutcheson did not report the trip on his statement of financial interests, according to the report.

During the Colorado trip, the commission reported Hutcheson made charges on the district card that were from a personal vacation. That included an extra night at a hotel in a different city than where the conference was held, as well as nearly 500 miles on a rental car.

The commission ruled the actions violated state ethics rules. Hutcheson agreed to file accurate statements of financial interest for 2016, 2017 and 2018 after the commission said he failed to include certain information in the documents.

The district has since implemented several measures in an effort to prevent any similar issues in the future, said solicitor Pete Halesey.

Multi-step approvals for any district-related travel and expenditures must include the compilation of a budget to show board members how much could be spent on such a trip. The procurement cards must be signed out by an employee through the main district office and receipts documenting expenses must be submitted in a timely fashion.

"It's more centrally controlled and follow up reporting requirements have been tightened up," he said.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, or via Twitter .