El Rincon PTA President Aimee Tarver called an emergency meeting at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the elementary school to discuss funds that were recently discovered missing from the PTA bank account. The incident is under investigation by the Culver City Police Department.
Sources associated with the investigation estimate the missing funds at between $18,000 and $30,000. A suspect has not been named.
According to Tarver, this year’s PTA board requested an audit to determine why "some bills weren’t paid, and why we had such a massive debt" in October, when the money was discovered missing. The discrepancies were traced back to January, which may have affected last year’s board, Tarver said.
Tarver declined to identify a suspect in this matter, though she said a board member was recently removed for not properly following the association's bank depositing procedures. Tarver declined to give additional details due to the investigation.
When questioned by Patch about the removed board member, Tarver confirmed PTA treasurer Sheri Noda no longer holds the position. Tarver did not comment on whether Noda is a suspect regarding the missing funds.
Tarver said the PTA Council receives audits of each school's funds every three months and former El Rincon PTA President Mary Collins was supposed to ensure the school's audit was delivered by Noda. "I'm not quite sure if Mary was checking the audits," Tarver said. "The PTA Council was not receiving audits from Sheri."
Thirty-third District PTA Council President Vera Johnson was not available for comment at the time of publication.
Several parents at Tuesday's meeting expressed their frustration that specific steps were not taken by the former board to prevent the money from disappearing. Standard PTA financial procedures include ensuring two people count incoming funds, and that both sign off on how much was counted. According to Tarver, all incoming funds were signed off by two individuals, but some deposits never made it to the bank.
PTA member and El Rincon parent Emily Hallowell said she was confused on how a board member could take funds from the account if all the procedures were followed, and she wanted Collins to address the community, since much of the funds went missing under her tenure.
“There’s a handful of things that, as PTA president, you’re responsible for—and two of them is that at the end of the year that you have the money in the account and that people feel good about volunteering. She did neither,” Hallowell said.
Tarver said Collins was unable to attend Tuesday's meeting.
“I want to know, I don’t understand how we’re saying that someone isn’t implicated but, frankly, someone has been implicated. It seems that someone else has waltzed away from this situation and is not taking any accountability for not overseeing… It’s money. At the end of the day, it’s money. The PTA raises money.”
Moving forward, Tarver assured the community that the PTA is putting several procedures in place to guarantee funds cannot go missing again, such as making sure each deposit over $1,000 has two members assigned to deposit it and adding more members to the board to ensure accountability.
When asked about the exact amount of the funds and details of the case, Lt. Ronald Iizuka of the Culver City Police Department declined to comment, as the investigation is still pending.
Patch will keep readers updated as more details of the case unfold.