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Fraud Charges Against Ferguson Superintendent Dropped: Reports

UPDATED

The superintendent of schools in Ferguson, Mo., Joseph Davis, is no longer facing fraud charges stemming from allegations that he misused the credit card belonging to his former district in North Carolina, St. Louis media reported.

St. Louis Public Radio said Monday that a North Carolina prosecutor had dropped the charges against Davis.

Davis, who has led Ferguson-Florissant schools since 2015, had been accused of using a credit card belonging to the Washington County,  N.C., school system to book a hotel room and car outside of Philadelphia in January of  this year, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Thumbnail image for Joseph-Davis-Ferguson-blog (002).jpg

Davis was arrested in August and charged with two counts of obtaining false property, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time. He voluntarily stepped down from his duties as superintendent in the Ferguson-Florissant school district. The district is expected to hold a press conference Tuesday to address Davis' employment.

UPDATE:

Davis was welcomed back to the district on Tuesday.

The school board said in a joint statement that it was pleased that the matter had been resolved. 

"We are confident in Dr. Davis' leadership and his focus on providing a great education for our students," the statement read in part.  "We look forward to putting this incident behind us, and hope our community will join us in focusing on the future for the sake of our students."

Davis thanked his supporters.

"I aim to build and rebuild any trust that may have been lost during this time, and I can assure you that I will be hyper-focused on moving our district forward and providing a high-quality education for ALL children," he said in the statement. 

Watsi Sutton, an attorney who represented Davis, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the use of the card was the result of an "inadvertent error with no criminal intent."

Davis returned his credit card to Washington County after he left the district in 2015, she said. But when making reservations online in this year, Davis "innocently" selected the Washington County credit card information, which had been stored in his profile on Priceline.com, she told the paper. Davis had meant to use his own credit card, Sutton told the paper.  

Sutton told the paper that her client was not aware that the room and car had been charged to the Washington County card until he was arrested in August. Davis plans to repay the Washington County district the $139.58, she said. 

A January 2016 audit by the North Carolina state auditor accused Davis of misspending thousands of dollars and failing to keep records for some expenses. Davis defended his spending while in Washington County.

Joseph Davis, superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, visits a classroom in the district in 2015, shortly after assuming duties in the district.
--Sid Hastings for Education Week-File
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