• Taxpayers foot bill for former early ed commissioner to drive from Conn. to work


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- FOX 25 has looked at the travel expenses of former Early Education Commissioner Sherri Killins and learned that taxpayers have not only been paying her $200,000 per year salary, they've also been paying for her to drive to work from her home in Connecticut.

    In January alone, Killins billed taxpayers more than $200 just to drive from her home in New Haven to work.

    Earlier this week, Killins stepped down from her post after it was revealed she was taking part in a school superintendent training program that required 300 hours in the town of Ware. Even though she resigned, Killins is staying on for two months as a paid consultant.

    FOX 25's Sharman Sacchetti asked Gov. Deval Patrick why we're paying a commissioner to drive to work from her home out of state. Eventually, he walked away and left the education secretary to answer.

    "I guess the obvious question is why are we paying her to go to work?" Sacchetti asked.

    "We follow what's known as the shortest distance rule," Secretary of Education Matthew Malone explained. "For example, as secretary, I would be reimbursed if part of my day at my office in Boston and have to drive to Holyoke for an event so she would be reimbursed from the shortest distance to the event. So if the event was in Springfield and she's coming from New Haven, that's where she would be reimbursed from, which is a lot shorter than Boston to Springfield."

    "So, technically, I mean, taxpayers are making out on the deal then?" Sacchetti asked.

    "Taxpayers are doing better in that deal, yes." Malone responded. "Look, we've followed the rules, we've done the investigation, you have a copy of it. We've released it, we've been up front. There were a couple of technicalities that weren't our fault. I laid out a set of recommendations for the board to follow. They're taking this very serious and we're moving forward."

    The secretary says he did a review and found no serious wrongdoing, but he did say Killins did not follow proper administrative procedures, such as getting supervisors to sign off on those receipt reimbursements. From now on, workers will need permission to do that sort of thing, and have to use personal or vacation time. Before Killins leaves, she will also collect more than $14,000 in unused vacation time.

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