Kacey Criswell, formerly the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) president and treasurer at Gibson County’s Spring Hill School, allegedly stole at least $17,586 from the organization from July 2015 and November 2019, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office stated Tuesday.
After officials of the elementary school reported that the PTO was missing funds, a county grand jury was empaneled and investigatory findings were presented to District 28 Attorney General Frederick Hardy Agee on July 12 supporting an indictment for theft of property over $10,000.
The PTO was officially dissolved last August. Before its termination, Criswell paid back $14,144 of the association’s money but still owes $3,442, according to the comptroller’s investigative report.
Beyond those amounts, the comptroller’s investigation expressed a concern over $5,092 in purchases that aren’t backed up by itemized receipts or any other documents, thus leaving it unclear whether these expenditures went solely to aid the school district.
In a statement following the indictment, Comptroller Jason Mumpower (R) advised school organizations like Spring Hill’s PTO to take all proper precautions to guarantee funds are not misappropriated.
“School support organizations must ensure they are watching the money,” said Mumpower. “It’s important to keep invoices or receipts for every transaction, require two signatures on checks, and ensure two responsible individuals are signing off on any money collected during fundraising activities.”
The investigative report asserted that PTO officials failed to perform these and other precautionary practices and that they did not file the required annual financial report with the Gibson County Special School District Board of Education for the 2017-2018 school year.
Spring Hill School officials, the report said, “indicated that they have corrected or will correct these deficiencies.”
The comptroller noted that anyone concerned about misappropriation or misuse of public funds in the Volunteer State can call his office’s toll-free hotline at 800-232-5454 or file a report electronically at tncot.cc/fraud.
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