Q&A: Obtaining expense receipts


From the Daily Reporter (Greenfield):

Q: I am having a tough time trying to get some information from the Southern Hancock school district. I have asked them for all expense receipts turned in by Superintendent Jim Halik from 2010 to present.

It came to our attention that his own school board audited him after his former secretary went to the school board and questioned some of his spending.

While she said he used the school corporation credit card to purchase personal items, the school board will not give me any expense receipts. They said he doesn’t turn in expense reports.

Can they do this? Am I asking for the wrong thing? They have had their lawyer send us a letter declining our requests for his receipts and credit card reports. 

A: If he didn’t turn in expense reports, they would have none to produce.

If he used a school district credit card, the bills would be public records and should be disclosable.

What is their statutory basis for denial of credit card statements?

If he has expenses, they would be cutting checks to reimburse him. You can request to inspect the check register to see what checks have been written to him beyond his payroll.

Check to see if the district combines his expenses with his payroll, but I doubt that would happen because it would be confusing as to the withholding of taxes.

Generally, if there is a check cut, there should be documentation on file (such as a check request) that explains why the check was cut.

You might not see receipts, but there will mostly likely be some documentation about why a check was written.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.