APS ethics panel fines English for improper use of credit card

Although Courtney English had already come clean about his misuse of an Atlanta Public Schools credit card, an ethics panel has officially sanctioned him for his $855 spending spree.

At a special ethics panel hearing Friday morning, the panel voted 6-0 that English, a member of the troubled Atlanta Board of Education, had violated APS standards by using his board-issued credit card for personal use.

Then, in a 5-1 vote, the panel ruled that English would received a public reprimand, lose the use of his credit card and pay a $2,500 fine to the school system that would be used for student development.

“I am glad to put this behind us,” said English, who had asked panel chair Susan Pease Langford to reduce his fine to $1,000. She rejected it. “This board has the capacity to work toward student achievement. It is important that the city of Atlanta understands that we are committed to doing what is right.”

Between May 29 and June 30, English spent $855.83 on an airline ticket, food, gratuities, hotel and taxi charges.

English reimbursed the system on July 14, but on July 30, he sent out an open letter admitting and apologizing for the purchases, claiming that he did not fully understand the terms of the card's use and "mistakenly thought I could use the credit card for personal use as long as I immediately reimbursed the district for any charges incurred."

English is relatively new to the school board, having taken office in January. Last month, English was part of a five-person faction of the board that staged what some say amounted to a coup to oust former chair and vice chair LaChandra Butler Burks and Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, respectively.

Khaatim Sherrer El, the newly installed chair of the board, did not attend the meeting. Yolanda Johnson, the vice chair, did not comment.