SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The Shawnee school board, in December, passed a resolution, updating policies and made some procedural changes to improve internal financial controls.
The move stems from the arrests and convictions of two people last year that were caught stealing money from the school district.
“There was a policy in place that has been updated to ensure that the district is doing all that it can to prevent future fraudulent activities,” said Chris Cross, treasurer for Shawnee schools.
Heather O’Connor, then treasurer of the Shawnee Middle School Parent Teacher Committee, received five years probation and ordered to make restitution of more than $50,000 for stealing $42,141 from the PTC and an additional $9,277 from the Little Indians volleyball booster club.
Kimberly Hall, a former facilities administrative assistant at Shawnee schools and treasurer of the Shawnee Baseball Boosters Association, received two years probation and ordered to pay back more than $41,000 to the school and booster club.
Both of the discrepancies were discovered during a state audit.
The changes will make parent and booster groups submit bylaws to the school board for approval and provide financial statements to the board for review.
“The booster groups have to file their bylaws with the district for approval by the board by April 1 of each year. They have to submit their financial statements for the previous calendar year — Dec. 31, 2018, for example — to the treasurer’s office for review,” said Cross.
Other changes were made to existing policies that should cut down on fraud.
“An employee cannot be appointed a board member, if you will, of the booster group. They can still volunteer and serve in that capacity but they can not serve as a voting board member,” she said.
The Shawnee school board considered the changes for most of 2018 and finally passed the measure at the Dec. 18 board meeting.
“The board uses the policies suggested by OSBA [Ohio School Board Association]. They send recommendations then we use those recommendations and also make it unique to what our district’s needs are,” she said.
Other measures are being taken as well to better account for the money moving through the various groups.
“One of the other suggested policy changes that we agreed to is, we are encouraging booster groups, specifically sport booster groups, to work with the athletic boosters because the Shawnee Athletic Boosters is a recognized 501(c)3 organization, a non-profit with its own tax ID number, and so we’ve had some of our booster groups, for example, the Shawnee Baseball Boosters that was the victim of the recent fraud activity, instead of having their own bank account, now they are with the athletic boosters with their funds earmarked for baseball, but they operate under the athletic boosters,” she said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.