Chesterton Tribune



SBOA: Nearly $5,000 missing from Valparaiso elementary school

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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 report.

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.


Posted 11/29/2019




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