Former Early Education Commissioner Sherri Killins broke department rules by being reimbursed for travel without the approval of her boss, according to the findings of a state report prompted by a Herald investigation.
Secretary of Education Matt Malone found that two of Killins’ travel reimbursement forms since 2012 were submitted without a manager or supervisor’s authorizing signature.
He also found that Killins since Jan. 1, 2012, submitted travel authorization forms — separate documents from the reimbursements — without the required signatures of the chief fiscal affairs officer and the Secretary of Education.
In both cases, Malone wrote that “the appropriate procedures were not followed.” But Malone cleared Killins of illegal activity.
The Herald first reported that Killins, a resident of New Haven, Conn., was moonlighting as a superintendent-in-training at the Ware Public Schools while earning her near $200,000 a year commissioner’s salary.
“She did not commit serious wrongdoing or engage in any intentional malfeasance that would require termination of her employment, though it appears that some administrative procedures were not followed,” Malone wrote.
Malone determined Killins had racked up 30 hours toward her 300-hour internship requirement and first contacted the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in December to learn about the superintendent requirements.
She began interning in Ware in January and her calendar showed one all-day appointment on Jan. 30, a Wednesday, and a two-hour appointment from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, according to Malone’s report.
Killins also had several weekday appointments scheduled for future dates, but Malone said Killins had claimed she’d make them up with “after-work” activities as commissioner.
Malone recommended the Early Education and Care Board adopt recommendations, including requiring staffers to approve outside employment and internships and to seek an opinion from general counsel or the state Ethics Commission on potential conflicts of interest.
He also recommended no EEC workers engage in outside activities on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. unless they take personal or vacation time.
“The last week has been difficult for EEC and its employees,” Malone wrote. “Following Commissioner Killins’s recent decision to resign her position, this is the right time for your board to evaluate and refine departmental processes and procedures.”
Killins remains on the state payroll. She will serve as a consultant during the transition, though state officials have failed to pinpoint specifically what she’ll do aside from filing unspecified written reports, or exactly how many hours she’ll be required to work. A spokesman has said she’ll work “up to” 37 hours a week and be paid her same commissioner’s salary. Last year, she earned $197,585.
Probe: Patrick’s early ed chief broke travel rules – Boston Herald