Wilmer-Hutchins Bought Art, Furniture With Education Money

9-16-05 - Officials in the now-defunct Wilmer-Hutchins school district deliberately inflated student numbers to obtain more federal funds and misused that money to buy items such as furniture and artwork, state auditors said.

District officials spent more than $270,000 in federal education funds meant for reading and math instruction for the district's weakest students and cost state taxpayers about $185,000 by overstating student numbers, according to the audit.

Wilmer-Hutchins did not open this fall and its students are being bused to Dallas schools. Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley said Sept. 2 that the Texas Education Agency plans to permanently dissolve the district _ whose former superintendent, Charles Matthews, was indicted in March on a felony evidence tampering charge.

Newly appointed Superintendent Eugene Young said the district did not dispute the audit's findings and would repay $455,000 to state and federal authorities.

"We owe the money, and it will be paid," Young said.