OLNEY, Md. - An investigation is underway after $39,000 appears to be missing from funding for the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA).
Members first noticed irregularities with their finances in March. They conducted a three-week internal audit and discovered that between July 2016 and March 2017, the money was improperly taken from the council’s checking account.
According to new MCCPTA president Lynne Harris, police were then notified.
“It’s donations, it’s fundraising that we are doing all for our students, our teachers, our schools and our community,” she said. “Going forward, our biggest negative impact is uncertainty. We don't know at this point how much money we have to start our fiscal year.”
Montgomery County police has received financial records from the organization and have opened an investigation. No charges have been filed yet.
The MCCPTA represents the 192 local parent-teacher associations. Each school has one or two representatives and the goal is to exchange information and pool support for the students.
Harris was elected as president on Tuesday and is promising transparency. She also has a plea for the person who took the funds.
“Just give us the money back so we can do the work that our members expect us to do,” she said.
MCCPTA posted a letter on their website about the alleged financial fraud.
Dear MCCPTA members,
An unfortunate incident has occurred within the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (MCCPTA). MCCPTA has discovered that since July 1, 2016, significant financial irregularities have occurred, including the apparent theft of a substantial sum, most likely by someone inside MCCPTA. Inconsistencies in financial records were noted by the Board of Directors in March. The BOD asked for an internal audit, and an audit team was formed on March 28. The audit team discovered the loss of funds during its subsequent review of MCCPTA’s financial records.
The MCCPTA audit team turned over financial records and findings to the Montgomery County Police Department Financial Crimes Unit, which has opened an ongoing investigation.
We are cooperating fully with this investigation and will diligently follow-up steps which have already been taken to protect our organization:
• MCCPTA reported the financial irregularities to the MCCPTA bank, which promptly took action to safeguard MCCPTA funds.
• MCCPTA conducted an immediate membership audit with PTAs at our local schools to ensure that local membership funds were not directly misappropriated; it appears that this did not happen.
• MCCPTA sought, and continues to seek, the guidance of Maryland PTA as we handle this issue, and prepare to move forward.
• MCCPTA is working with our insurance carrier to recover lost funds.
MCCPTA is committed to safeguarding the resources entrusted to us by our members. We are reviewing financial procedures to ensure that proper oversight is strictly maintained and procedures are stringently followed going forward. The MCCPTA executive committee will report regularly to our members concerning the disposition of this case.
Finally, as a volunteer organization, MCCPTA relies on the support of its membership to accomplish its goals. With that in mind, we ask that all members be mindful and discreet when publicly discussing this issue. If you are contacted by the press, please refer them to MCCPTA President, Lynne Harris.