The State Board of
Accounts found in a special investigation that funds are missing from Cooks
Corners Elementary School and has ordered a former Valparaiso Community
Schools employee to reimburse the School Corporation.
In a report filed
Wednesday, SBOA said it’s seeking $11,040.50 in reimbursement from Nicole
Plemons, the former Secretary/Treasurer at Cooks Corners who was hired Nov.
30, 2015. Under Plemons watch, SBOA said, $4,897 in payments for school
agenda notebooks, t-shirts, field trips, and textbook rental was collected
but subsequently never deposited into a School bank account.
According to the
report, the School Corporation notified SBOA of misappropriated funds after
it conducted an internal audit and found that $4,221 was never deposited for
school agenda notebooks, t-shirts, field trips, and textbook rental. SBOA
then conducted a special investigation of the time period July 1, 2016 to
March 18, 2019, where it found $4,897 was mishandled. The $6,134.50 cost of
the special investigation is also billed to Plemons, bringing the total
reimbursement charge to $11,040.50.
Over the 2017-2018
and 2018-2019 school years, $1,986 in cash collections were collected and
not deposited. $150 in fees for textbook rental, $532 in payments for agenda
notebooks, and $2,229 for field trips were never deposited, according to the
The report also
notes funds for agenda notebooks following an event where the notebooks were
sold were not deposited until 92 days after the event, when School officials
questioned the lack of collections. In 2019, Plemons also deposited the
School’s annual picture commission into the School’s Interest fund instead
of it’s Student Activity Fund. The report states the Interest Fund would
have been overdrawn had Plemons not added that $1,572.40.
SBOA also notes in
the report that Plemons gave employees a packet of information that included
a “Procedures for Handling Money” section that was marked “updated” as of
Aug. 9, 2018. The document says, in part, that employees must turn in their
cash collections everyday to Plemons and check with her before doing
anything that involves money.
Plemons was covered
by a $30,000 public official position schedule bond for each of those school
years, and the School Corporation had employee dishonesty insurance coverage
totaling $10,000 for the 2017-2018 school year and $30,000 for the 2018-2019
school year, the report says.
SBOA highlighted a
lack of internal controls and recordkeeping in the report. State forms and
supporting documents were not retained for 6 out of 11 field trips in the
time period SBOA investigated, and Plemons did not properly issue receipts
when she took collections from teachers, according to the report.
“There were no
controls, such as oversight and segregation of duties, for the recordkeeping
at the Elementary School. The Secretary/Treasurer was solely responsible for
all financial processes,” SBOA said.
SBOA discussed the
investigation and report with top Valparaiso Community Schools officials on
Sept. 24, 2019 and has forwarded the report to the Indiana Attorney General
and the Porter County Prosecutor.