News 12 First at Five
AIKEN, S.C. -- The woman accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the North Aiken Elementary PTO fund is out on bond. Deputies arrested PTO Treasurer Lisa Oakman for Breach of Trust. She allegedly stole money from the volunteer organization's fund for more than eight months.
Today, Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt responds to the allegations, explaining that currently, neither the School Board nor principals have the power to check up on PTO funds. She's calling for some revisions to that policy immediately.
Dr. Everitt says next Tuesday, she is taking a proposal to the school board for a revised policy on relations with Parent Organizations. The changes would allow the Board and school principals to communicate with banks about PTO funds. She says the goal is not to control how PTO's raise or spend money, but she feels it would be beneficial for someone other than the Treasurer to be overseeing the financial reports.
"We have to have some way to check over them," she believes.
"There's a certain line you don't cross, and with kids you just don't cross that line!" Jessica McIntyre was very upset to see media reports of Oakman's arrest. McIntyre's daughter is starting second grade at North Aiken Elementary in the fall. "It takes a while to raise that kind of money," she says of the $5,000 Oakman is accused of stealing. "And seriously? You're gonna steal from the kids? Shoot. You deserve to go to jail."
"Somewhere down the line, the school had done an audit of the money and found some money was not accounted for," explains Sgt. Jason Feemster with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office. He says so far their investigation shows discrepancies all the way back to November of 2011.
Dr. Everitt tells News 12, "As soon as the principal saw something, she reported it through the proper channels. We always turn concerns like this over to the authorities to investigate."
This is the second incident this year where a local PTO treasurer was accused of stealing money from the school. Connie Boisclair was the Treasurer for the North Augusta Middle School PTO. Investigators say she took more than $38,000. Boisclair had actually previously served prison time twenty years ago for stealing veterans and social security checks from nursing home residents.
"Principal Ray [at North Aiken] has been looking out so that's good. She's always been a good principal," insists McIntyre. She is worried there are not background checks for PTO Treasurers in the school system. There are background checks for volunteers working closely with children, according to policy.
PTO volunteer groups are supposed to present a budget and show expenditure updates in some of their meetings, and Dr. Everitt says most do just that. She adds, "We have such wonderful parents and volunteers throughout the school system. The few incidents like these are an anomaly."
"It's just stealing from our kids," adds Sgt. Feemster. "It's stealing from opportunities they would have had to maybe get a book their parents weren't able to provide or provide a fun activity like the school carnival, especially in elementary school."
McIntyre admits, "It kind of makes me nervous about where my money goes to. But I'm pretty sure it's not gonna happen again."