District 300 Releases Some Details on Huge Amount “Stolen” from Student Activity Funds

Guess I should have picked up on what Karen Plaza (wife of Lake in the Hills Village President Ed Plaza) said after the meeting held by State Senator Pam Althoff and State Rep. Mike Tryon at the Lake in the Hills Village Hall on October 24, 2005.

She was complaining about the state’s having just required a separate accounting of student activity fees and how she was having trouble coping with it.

It looks like a lot more was going on.

A July 8, 2006, “Board of Education” memo from Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Crates cited a lack of student activity account reconciliation at Dundee-Crown High School as of May 31, 2006, and reported that.Plaza was “actively working to straighten out the accounts.” It concluded that “the (money) has been stolen.”

But the Carpentersville Police report shows a May 2004 date, as you can see if you enlarge the small image. It says “finance Assistant” Plaza estimated theft of $60,000 to $113,000 in December of 2005.

Am I too suspicious to point out that my conversation with Plaza, not to mention the May, 2004 in the police report, was before the tax hike and the bond referendums, while May 31, 2006, was shortly thereafter?

And all of the dates were way, way before the April, 2007, school board elections.

On Jul 6, 2006, the District’s Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., presumably a representative of District 300’s insurance company, wrote District 300 that it had hired forensic auditor John Peters & Associates; on August 9th Gallagher’s Rue notified the district that he would no longer be retained.

In an August 6th letter to Daily Herald reporter Emily Krone, District 300 School Superintendent Ken Arndt releases a timeline which includes

  • 2005 : Central Office employees identified concerns with student activity accounts and began pursuing answers to their concerns
  • September 2006 (after the rate hike and bond referendums, I would note): D300 launched a series of proactive steps to research, define, and correct the root cause(s) of the bookkeeping problems.
  • July 2006: D300 filed a police report on the matter with after determining that embezzlement was probable.
  • July 2007: D300 filed papers in Kane County Circuit Court seeking financial documentation to help answer the remaining questions, which are relevant both to District’s insurance claim and possible criminal charges.

I have asked District 300 why the second listed date is not in chronicle order.

No answer yet.

Maybe it should read “September 2005.”

To see the Carpentersville Police Department Report, click here.


District 300 Releases Some Details on Huge Amount “Stolen” from Student Activity Funds — 5 Comments

  1. You’re right Cal, this should have been out in the open before the referendum for three reasons. 1.) It would have made it easier to show how understaffed the central office staff is for a school district this size 2.) It would have made the case even stronger for the need of new, comprehensive accounting software and 3.) It would have shown people how ridiculously expensive student activity fees had gotten. (By the way, post-referendum, many of these fees have been reduced or removed.)
    Thanks for showing your readers why this should have been pointed out before the referendum.

  2. Maybe there will be a reply from “Isn’t that special?”

  3. Actually, there has been neither reduced fees or removal of any fees that I am aware of. And how is that I know this, because I have three students at Dundee Crown High School. I just spent OVER $500 to enroll them this 07/08 school year. And tomorrow two of my students will take $150 checks to Dundee Crown to cover their Fall sports. While I won’t argue that new software will be of help, right now it is making life pretty difficult for many employees at the high schools. When high schedules are mailed home, we will be better able to judge how well this new expensive software is working. And finally, I don’t believe for one minute that the D300 central office is understaffed, but I believe that **it rolls downhill and replacement of current upper management is not a bad idea. This is just the tip of the iceberg, wait until school starts with the new bus company.

  4. Oh, and one thing more. “oh, really” you ought to visit the central office and check out the new flat screen in the lobby. I’m sure it was bought with the referenda monies, it runs CNN all day long. Just another reason everyone should have voted Yes/Yes

  5. Understaffed central office? Why this district has a public relations office (communications)! maybe that headcount should have been used to keep an eye on the cash box, because it appears our CFO was too busy trying to get the referendum passed to do her job!

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