NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - If your teen is on a sports team, chances are there’s a booster club or PTO putting together fundraisers.
The same bucket of money used for positivity may sometimes leave you and your teen empty-handed.
“The problems that we see in these booster clubs and PTOs are fairly similar from one investigation to the next,” John Dunn, spokesperson for the Comptroller’s Office, said.
Since 2016, the Comptroller’s Office has uncovered $25.8 million in fraud, waste and abuse in the state.
One of the most egregious cases was H.G. Hill Middle School’s Parent Teacher Organization in Nashville.
According to the investigative report, former PTO President Janice Adrian misappropriated funds totaling more than $31,000. At one point the former president was accused of making at least 36 personal purchase with the PTO debit card to make home rental and car payments, utility bills as well as purchase clothing, furniture and cigarettes.
She was found guilty on one count of theft over $10,000 and one count of fraudulent use of a credit or debit card. She’s now on supervised probation for six years.
Adrian’s attorney said the former president is abiding by her probation and doing her best to pay the money back.
“School districts have a limited amount of oversight because, ultimately, the buck kind of stops at the officers of the organization,” Taronda Frierson, Metro Schools’ Director of School Audit, said.
Frierson said school support organizations are separate entities from the district, but the district has increased its internal controls based on the suspected fraud and misappropriation reports.
“One of the things that we do is when they do submit their revenues and expense reports to us, we do compare that information to our fundraiser approval forms that we have on file and our office because that helps us gauge if organizations are depositing funds timely,” Frierson said.
It’s what they’re doing to stay ahead so that another parent doesn’t find themselves on the sidelines worried about their money.
Frierson said if you’re a parent and you plan to get involved in a PTO or Booster Club, there are some things you need to know:
- Do your homework on the organization
- Speak with the officers in charge. Ask them what their accomplishments are.
- Ask if you could see meeting minutes or their monthly financial reports.
Frierson said if they’ve got nothing to hide, they won’t be defensive about it. If they are, that’s a red flag.