Dining with Dianne – Fox Credit Cards Part III

23 Aug

Disgraced Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow’s credit card charges have aroused outrage in the community (as have the charges of other top administrators, most of whom still work at the district). Critchlow used her card at many area restaurants. Here is a list of her favorite eating establishments, based on charges from July 2012 through May 2014:

1. Panera – 15 visits
2. Chick-Fil-A – 13 visits
3. Weber’s Front Row – 8 visits
3. (tie) Terrazza Grill – 8 visits
5. Drunken Noodles – 7 visits

Critchlow spread our money around, though. By my count, she patronized 33 local establishments over this time. From July 2013 through May 2014, she made purchases at restaurants 59 times (I am excluding obvious out-of-town dining from this review) [Update: this is about 1.5 times per week). This does not include any food she may have purchased at grocery stores, gas stations, Wal-mart, or DiGregorio’s Italian Market (where she spent $116 in December 2013). It also does not include charges she made on Discover cards issued to other district employees, so these numbers are likely higher. Her average expenditure was about $60, with charges as high as $351.86 (at Bandana’s BBQ). So it is clear she was treating others to lunch on our dimes. But she ate alone on occasion; there were seven charges of $15 or less. Some of the large, $100+ charges suggest she was buying food for a group. But it’s hard to see why the superintendent would be the one to be picking up and paying for food. A similar question is being asked for all the grocery store and Sam’s Club purchases: why are senior administrators going on shopping trips? Is that in their job description? Or are they giving their cards to other people?

As for her justification, we see on the board packet for the August 19 school board meeting (bottom of page 152) that three of Critchlow’s restaurant charges were explained as “professional development.” Of course, two of these three charges were made on the day after Critchlow went on medical leave (just as her internet posting scandal exploded). So it sounds like professional development is a convenient, generic label under which to attempt to justify her dining. Furthermore, as pointed out by Fox C-6 Watchdogs, district credit cards are only to be used for “the purchase of instructional materials, items related to the improvement of instruction or materials related to capital improvements or supplies” (policy 3125). Critchlow claims that she has receipts and written explanations for each charge. I look forward to seeing these.

Another thought that occurs to me is this: there is a high school, a middle school, and an elementary school right near the central office. Each of these schools has a cafeteria. Why not use them for your professional development lunches? You guys hired the board president’s daughter-in-law to run the food services; put taxpayer money where your mouth is and sample the food. If it’s good enough for the kids, isn’t it good enough for the administrators? It’s a lot cheaper, too.

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