Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Former PTA treasurer charged with embezzlement

A former parent volunteer at Paul Munro Elementary School has been arrested and charged with six counts of embezzlement.
Jennifer Marie Musick, 40, turned herself in to the Lynchburg Police Department on Thursday. The charges relate to the theft of more than $31,000 from the Paul Munro Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Association. She served as treasurer of the PTA during the 2014-15 school year.
She no longer is PTA treasurer nor is she a member of the PTA at Paul Munro, according to another PTA board member.
According to the Blue Ridge Regional Jail online records, Musick is accused of embezzling from the PTA fund in August 2012, twice in 2013 and once more in 2014.
“PTA and PTO funds are not controlled or maintained by any Lynchburg City Schools personnel. These funds are managed solely by volunteers of the schools. Additionally, LCS does not have authority over PTA or PTO leadership,” Lynchburg City Schools spokeswoman Cindy Babb said in a news release Thursday.
Current Paul Munro Elementary School PTA President Christie Hooper said the PTA became aware of possible financial issues in the fall of 2015, when Virginia PTA contacted the school about unpaid membership dues. According to Hooper, Virginia PTA said it had not received dues for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
“That’s what alarmed us,” Hooper said.
It led members to look more closely at the PTA's two bank accounts. One account funds some classroom expenses for teachers and things like student field trips, plays and reading incentives. A second account, created to maintain funds for a new playground for the school’s 50th anniversary holds special project funds.
Hooper said the PTA obtained access to the accounts in the fall and someone had “basically dried our bank accounts clean.”
Hooper said although the money has not been recovered, the financial loses will not impact teachers or students. The PTA has held several successful fundraisers this year.
“Paul Munro has an active PTA with strong parental involvement. Paul Munro and LCS value these important partnerships with parents and the community, and we will continue to encourage parental involvement in our schools; however, this recent unfortunate incident of misconduct serves as a reminder that all community organizations must engage in best practices and remain accountable to one another so that funds are used appropriately.”
Hooper said the experience has made the new PTA stronger than ever, and inspired many to rally behind the school. It has also led the PTA to change its policies and procedures putting in place numerous precautions.
The PTA has rewritten its bylaws, appointed both a treasurer and treasurer-elect who jointly are responsible for finances, requires no less than three signatures on every check, implemented a nepotism policy and requires that all cash handled at fundraisers be counted by all members.

“Now we have more than just one pair of eyes doing it,” Hooper said.

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