Belcher asked Thomas about fees as high as $900 to $1,100 per day paid to consultants. In defense of the expenditures, Thomas said the DOE purchasing office approved the list of candidates and those hired were among the lowest bidders. (Thomas had staff and funding shortfalls that likely made consultants necessary.)
In a September letter, State School Superintendent Richard Woods asked his internal auditor to investigate the school turnaround office for allegations of discrimination, possible conflicts of interest, misuse of state and federal funds and whistle-blower action by a staff member, according to WSB.
Thomas would not tell Belcher whether he suspected these allegations emanated from a disgruntled employee.
Thomas has been seeking an exit out of Georgia this year and has applied for several education leadership jobs outside the state. Thomas was among the finalists this year for superintendent posts in Greenwood County, S.C., Canton, Ohio, and Rochester, N.Y.
He was also under consideration in April to be Michigan's state school superintendent.
This latest development may accelerate his efforts to move on from Georgia.