The Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations said in a letter to members which was posted on its website that it has found “significant financial irregularities” resulting in the “apparent theft of a substantial sum, most likely by someone inside MCCPTA.”
The organization is the countywide association of 192 local PTAs in Montgomery County public schools. “We serve to help PTA leadership countywide on issues affecting children,” said the website.
MCCPTA says the “financial irregularities” were noted in March and the Board of Directors asked for an internal audit. “The audit team discovered the loss of funds during its subsequent review of MCCPTA’s financial records,” read the letter. The letter stated that the irregularities began in July 2016.
“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,” said the letter. The audit team reviewed all financial activities between July 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017, looking for any suspicious activity.
The audit report was presented at Tuesday night’s MCCPTA meeting in at MCPS headquarters in Rockville. The MCCPTA delegates also elected new leadership at the meeting, and a new slate of officers was elected, with Lynne Harris succeeding Paul Geller at President of the MCCPTA. The new treasurer of the organization is Cheryl Peirce.
On a FAQ page posted on the MCCPTA website about the missing funds, the MCCPTA stated, “The audit team discovered that, between July 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017, $39,000 was improperly disbursed from the MCCPTA checking account. The audit team provided financial records and their findings to the Montgomery County Police Department Financial Crimes Unit on April 21, 2017.”
Montgomery County Police confirmed that a police report was filed on April 10 by former MCCPTA President Paul Geller, but would not comment on an open investigation. The letter states that MCCPTA is cooperating fully with the investigation.
MCCPTA said that it conducted an immediate membership audit with PTAs at local schools to ensure that local membership funds were not directly misappropriated. “It appears that this did not happen,” said the letter.
“MCCPTA conducted an audit of membership dues paid by local PTA units to MCCPTA and found that, to the best of our knowledge, membership dues submitted to MCCPTA were properly deposited and accounted for. Two local units that received MCCPTA funds are reviewing their accounts for any irregularities,” said the FAQ posted on the website.
The letter goes on to say that MCCPTA is continuing to seek guidance from Maryland PTA on handling this issue, and it is working with its insurance carrier to recover the lost funds.