NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Two former officers of parent-teacher organizations at two different schools were recently indicted on theft charges from the respective organizations, the Tennessee Comptroller's Office announced on Thursday.

Inglewood Elementary School sign - October 2020
 

Inglewood Elementary School (Photo: Tennessee Comptroller's Office)

 

As a result of an investigation, Angelica Hope Cooks, the former president of the PTO of Inglewood Elementary School, and Adlenita Leshay Shute, the former treasurer of the Isaiah T. Creswell PTSO, were indicted on theft charges by the Davidson County Grand Jury in August.

The investigation against Cooks was initiated after school officials voiced concerns to Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools internal auditors regarding unpaid PTO invoices.

Investigators determined that Cooks misappropriated PTO funds totaling at least $5,781 between August 2015 and August 2017. The balance in the PTO's only bank account on August 2017 was just $0.29.

The investigation shows Cooks used at least three schemes to steal the PTO's money for her personal benefit:

  • Cooks made at least 135 personal purchases using the PTO’s debit cards. These purchases, which included meals at restaurants and other personal items, totaled $3,045.
  • Cooks used PTO debit cards to make at least 27 ATM cash withdrawals totaling $1,287.
  • Cooks stole at least $995 from the PTO account by making at least eight over-the-counter cash withdrawals.
  • As a result of Cooks’ misappropriation, the PTO incurred bank fees including overdraft fees, foreign ATM fees, ATM balance inquiry fees, etc., totaling at least $454.

School system officials suspended Inglewood Elementary School's PTO operations in July 2017.

Cooks was indicted in August on one count of theft over $2,500 and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card.

“This scheme was not discovered for nearly two years because there was very little oversight of the PTO’s finances,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a news release. “All school support organizations are required to safeguard the funds and property of their respective organizations. In this case, the PTO failed to comply with the minimum amount of oversight required.”

IT Creswell Middle School of the Arts - October 2020
 

I.T. Creswell Middle School of the Arts (Photo: Tennessee Comptroller's Office)

 

The investigation against Shute began after PTSO officials discovered and reported that funds had been misappropriated from the PTSO bank account.

Shute allegedly stole at least $2,605 from the PTSO between January 2019 and March 2019.

Investigators determined that Shute used a PTSO debit card to make unauthorized cash withdrawals for her personal benefit.

Shute served as treasures during the 2017-2018 school year, but she kept the PTSO's debit card after her term expired. Shute was no longer associated with the PTSO board or its activities when she allegedly stole the money.

Shute was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in August on one count of theft over $2,500 and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card.

“It’s important and required that basic oversight is in place to safeguard the funds of all school support organizations,” said Wilson in a news release. “In this case, officials did not promptly reconcile bank statements or update authorized bank signatures. The former treasurer remained an authorized signer on the PTSO’s account for almost a year after she stepped down from the board.”

 
 

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