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Richmond school board member questions $7,500 expenditure

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RICHMOND, Va. – The expenditures of a Richmond School Board member have fallen under questions, as has the approval of them by other board members.

Last year, a CBS 6 reporter found receipts for out of town conferences, and for a catering bill adding up to more than $1,000.

The money was spent by Richmond school board member, Tichi Pinkney-Eppes, and the bill was paid by taxpayers

CBS 6 requested spending receipts from each board member and in the records found Eppes was invoiced for $7,500, by the Commonwealth Facilitation Group, to help set up parent involvement for the ninth district.

All the spending was approved by the school board.

"Every dollar we spend has to be scrutinized with the most careful eye to make sure we are not using dollars that could otherwise be spent to benefit our students, said RPS school board member, Jeff Bourne.

According the invoice, $3,000 of the bill has been paid.

The board was asked how Richmond Public Schools benefitted.

Eppes declined multiple requests for an interview, but in an email said that all her requests for services have been spent to directly benefit children and teachers. She also said she's one board member having no authority or opportunity to misuse public dollars.

Bourne was asked by a reporter how something so costly could get approved.

"The estimate might be $200, and then it comes back ‘oh it's $2500 so we've already basically approved it,’ but we haven't approved what the actual cost is," Bourne said.

"Were you aware this was going to cost thousands of dollars when approving?" asked Rarrick, "No, no," answered Bourne.

The $7500 charge violated the public procurement procedures, which is why the bill wasn't paid in full, according to CBS 6 sources who didn’t not wish to be publicly identified for the record.

Bourne said he understands why this charge would raise concerns.

"Are we procuring those services the right way" said Bourne, "if there are services that need to be purchased -- did we go through the right procurement process?"

Again, all spending is approved by the board; however Bourne said it never hurts to look at tightening policies.