Viewpoint: September 22, 2010

Day after day, a disappointed public is faced with stories of public officials who take advantage of their positions and few who take responsibility for their mistakes. Late last year, it was discovered Paul Vallas, the head of the Recovery School District, was using a state-owned vehicle to make personal trips, a practice which is banned statewide.

Paul Pastorek, LA superintendent of education and Vallas' supervisor, admitted he had authorized Vallas' personal use of the state-owned SUV and he had been unaware of the rule against personal use. Two weeks ago, Pastorek himself offered to personally reimburse the state for the costs of those trips since he authorized them.

We applaud the fact Pastorek took full responsibility for the misuse at the start of the investigation, but just days before offering to repay the state, Pastorek explained he didn't think anything should have to be repaid since no one knew what they were doing was wrong.

Is ignorance of the rules a good excuse for this oversight? We suggest the superintendent of education become more versed in the policies that impact his department and his employees. Pastorek's offer to resolve the issue came after The Associated Press followed up on the status of the case 9 months following the initial investigation. Whether this was pure coincidence or not, we're glad taxpayers are no longer footing the bill.