Audit: Reading School District spent thousands on lavish meals

READING, Pa - The Pennsylvania auditor general is calling actions by former members of the Reading School District "wasteful" and "abusive."

The FBI is also investigating after a report shows the district spent tens of thousands of dollars on lavish catering for the school board and administrators.

The Reading School District spent more than $76,000 on fancy meals and tried to cover it up, according to the report from Auditor General Jack Wagner.

"This kind of spending is unauthorized based on the public school code," said Wagner.

In the report, Wagner said the money was spent on food like jumbo lump crab meat and pan fried risotto cakes between 2005 and 2008.

"These were lavish meals," said Wagner.

The auditor general also said the district's former business manager concealed the food purchases as "supplies," and then the former superintendent signed off on it.

"That's a violation of proper recording and proper transparency in the use of public monies," Wagner explained.

After years of tough financial times for the Reading School District, taxpayers are livid.

"I think it's wrong," said one Reading resident.

"Sure I'm disappointed, because we pay for that," said another Reading taxpayer.

The auditor general made recommendations of how the district can correct the problems. Some of those included "to immediately eliminate the practice, to develop formal policies and procedures to correct the practices, where appropriate- to bring proceedings against the people involved, and the potential of even reimbursements."

In a letter, the current acting Reading superintendent, J. Drue Miles, said this district is taking corrective measures.

No charges have been filed. The FBI, Berks County district attorney, and the state Department of Education are still looking into the matter.

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