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Embattled city school official resigns

RenovationWalmartInner HarborAndres Alonso

An executive suite in the city school system's headquarters that underwent $250,000 in lavish renovations last year will soon be empty.

Jerome Oberlton, who repeatedly came under fire for his spending habits as the system’s chief technology officer, has resigned his post, city school officials confirmed last week.

Oberlton, who came to the district from the private sector in March 2011, has been named the new chief of staff for the Dallas Independent School District, the Dallas school district announced Friday. The Dallas Morning News reported that he will earn a salary of $185,000. He starts his new position Jan. 22.

Oberlton first stirred controversy in April of last year when a Baltimore Sun investigation revealed that of $500,000 worth of renovations that took place in city school headquarters in 2011, $250,000 went largely to outfit Oberlton’s basement office, with new floors, furniture, light fixtures, electronics and interactive whiteboards.

The renovations took place at the same time the district was lobbying lawmakers for billions of dollars to fix the system’s crumbling school buildings. Lawmakers, union leaders and education advocates criticized the expenses.

City schools CEO Andres Alonso acknowledged the whole situation was a “bad judgment call.”

Oberlton justified the renovations by saying they would attract employees.

 

Four months later, Oberlton also drew criticism for his office’s use of district-issued credit cards. Among the $500,000 worth of expenditures incurred by administrators were about $4,700 worth of transactions made by Oberlton's department. They included trips to retail stores like Bath & Body Works, Ross and Walmart to buy snacks and refreshments, and gifts and decorations for holiday banquets, birthdays and baby shower celebrations, records show.

Other charges from that office included a $7,300 office retreat, a $500 dinner at the Inner Harbor's Fogo de Chao, and a $500 quarterly meeting for staff at Paradise Indian Cuisine.

During Oberlton’s tenure with the city, he received the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Council of the Great City Schools’ Chief Information Officers, which "honors school business officials who exemplify leadership, innovation, commitment and professionalism in urban education."

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricaLG

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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RenovationWalmartInner HarborAndres Alonso
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