Hartford Schools Superintendent issues ban on out-of-state travel after $61K Miami trip

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HARTFORD - The Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools is issuing a temporary ban on most out-of-state travel for school employees.

This moratorium was implemented after dozens of educators took a trip to Miami earlier this month for the Magnet Schools of America Conference.

“What was an opportunity for celebration in receiving the Magnet Schools of America Donna Grady-Creer District Award for Magnet Sustainability has instead revealed a flaw in our travel approval process,” said Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez in a memo to staff.

Financial documents obtained from the school system show 33 educators attended the conference in Miami. Coincidentally, school leaders were meeting with parents at a board meeting about the district’s budget crisis on the day educators flew down for the conference.

The fees for attending the conference totaled $24, 057. Airfare for the nearly week-long trip added up to $12,004 and hotel costs in downtown Miami totaled $ 25,214.

So far, the school system’s bill is more than $61, 000. The teachers and principals who attended will be reimbursed for food and other travel-related expenses.

In response to the South Florida trip, Narvaez said it was “also clear that there was no need for such a large presence.”

The district’s superintendent is also ordering that all pre-approved travel be reviewed immediately, while they come up with a new procedure and policies for approving future out-of-state travel.

Only travel deemed essential will be permitted until further notice.

“Essential travel is limited to the following: travel that is necessary to maintain academic accreditation; required professional development in support of the core academic program of our schools and the district; or required travel by a granting institution necessary to maintain funding. In all cases, travel will be reviewed and approved by the Chief School Improvement Officer and the Chief of Staff,” said Narvaez.

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