Officials trip to France under scrutiny

Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 10:37 AM
Last updated 7:26 PM
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ATLANTA — A trip to France by some of Georgia’s top education officials has led to questions and confusion about who paid the tab.

Three Georgia Department of Education officials traveled to Europe late last year involving expenses of almost $9,400, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The state agency initially said the French government covered the costs.

When asked for details of the French payment such as when it was made, officials said the money came from a Georgia trust fund set up for international exchanges for students, staff and teachers.

Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said Georgia taxpayers didn’t pay into the fund, which was established in 1994 with help from a private donor. He said there was confusion about who paid for it because of how long the fund has been around.

The officials who traveled to France included Joel Thornton, who was Georgia School Superintendent John Barge’s chief of staff at the time of the trip.

David Turner, director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education at the department; and Greg Barfield, program specialist for World Languages and Global Initiatives; also made the trip to Nancy, France, from December 8-14.

The purpose was to renew a memorandum of understanding between the department and the Academie of Nancy-Metz, officials said.

It served as an opportunity to establish relationships with business officials in France and study how the French teach culinary arts, Thornton said.

Culinary arts is one subject in the state’s “career pathways” initiative. Under the new program, Georgia students are being asked to choose a pathway leading to a possible career.

Critics say the trip was a waste of money.

“This is a shocking abuse of authority and misuse of funds appropriated for students,” said William Perry, head of Georgia’s Common Cause, a non-partisan watchdog group. “This is the exact kind of thing that makes people throw their hands up and completely distrust government officials.”

Barge defended the French trip.

“It helped bring more students and teachers, and ultimately administrators, from France for an exchange program and allowed some of our own students and teachers to visit France,” he said. “Any time you can get them to experience other cultures is worthwhile and gives them a competitive advantage.”

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Dixieman
17636
Points
Dixieman 09/13/13 - 09:52 am
6
1
I want a job

where my boss believes that he should send me to France because "Any time you can get them to experience other cultures is worthwhile and gives them a competitive advantage.” Oui, oui! When does my plane leave?
No wonder the public school system is broken!

Riverman1
94500
Points
Riverman1 09/13/13 - 10:24 am
7
1
Richmond County Development Authority

Dixieman, go to work for the Richmond County Development Authority. Remember their trip to Europe? Tell me what THAT accomplished?

raul
5786
Points
raul 09/13/13 - 10:58 am
4
1
Can we spell BOONDOGGLE?

Can we spell BOONDOGGLE?

Marinerman1
5502
Points
Marinerman1 09/13/13 - 01:06 pm
2
2
This Time I Agree With the Trip

There was a good cross-section of educators that went. Georgia is blessed to have a few International Partner's programs scattered across the State. It is helping our State become a little larger Global Player. During the legislative session this year, GPB had several snippets about things international on the education front. On this trip, I'm in.

kissofdeath
474
Points
kissofdeath 09/13/13 - 02:36 pm
4
0
Since, taking trip caught

Since, taking trip caught watchdog eyes,they need to probe one - term Gov. Nathan Deal trips having brought not a single job creation idea to lower Georgia's high unemployment rate.What kind of deals he making when he travel to other country at taxpayer expense?

Riverman1
94500
Points
Riverman1 09/13/13 - 02:52 pm
6
0
"It is helping our State

"It is helping our State become a little larger Global Player."

Using emails and the phone could work just as well if not better.

kissofdeath
474
Points
kissofdeath 09/13/13 - 03:35 pm
1
1
I hope this is not a

I hope this is not a retaliation because Republican Georgia School Superintendent is challenging Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal for the governor seat in upcoming election. John Barge got my vote.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 09/13/13 - 07:41 pm
0
0
Bulls--t!
Unpublished

gubmint bloodsuckers at it again. These people on the gubmint dole have got to find real jobs.

Little Lamb
49373
Points
Little Lamb 09/13/13 - 08:31 pm
3
0
ABD

I'll vote for anybody but Deal.

Darby
29613
Points
Darby 09/13/13 - 09:58 pm
5
0
The latest chapter in a long line of

government boondoggles. Nobody knows why, who paid for it and what the purpose really was.

Can we be certain that Linda Schrenko wasn't in on this? I know she was still in jail when this happened but I'm none the less just a tad suspicious.

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