Parents charge San Francisco elementary school PTA
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
June 13, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Up to $16,000 may have been improperly
taken from a bank account holding money collected by students
and parents at a San Francisco elementary school and some parents
are charging that the school's former board of the parent-teacher
association embezzled the funds.
Around 660 students attend E.R. Taylor Elementary School, on
423 Burrows St. in San Francisco's Portola District, and parents
are upset that some of the money raised by students over the past
three years can't be accounted for, according to Ed Jew, who is
helping parents liaise with the school administration and district.
Jew said fundraising morale at the school has dropped and that
the children will be the ultimate losers if the case is not resolved.
"We want to basically recover the money for our kids,"
A Cinco de Mayo event planned this year had to be funded by parents
and a school camping trip was cut from two days to one because
of the account shortfall, he said.
Jew said that the school's incoming PTA requested an audit through
the district PTA after parents found the school repeatedly came
up short whenever they asked for documentation relating to money
made through fundraising activities.
Ellen Zhou, who has a daughter in first grade and a son in second
grade at the school, and who has been a parent at the school for
three years, said that parents became frustrated in May 2005 when
the school couldn't explain what had happened to money raised
at a schoolyard fundraiser.
Parents asking how much money had been collected at the sale
were told organizers didn't know how much money had come in, she
Compounding their frustration, many parents in the school don't
speak English and found it difficult to understand documents relating
to the PTA's activities, Jew said.
In November, after months of PTA queries, the school produced
six months worth of bank statements showing an apparently healthy
But when parents went to the Bank of America where the account
had been opened and asked for statements to confirm the balance,
they found a difference of around $8,000 between what was reported
in the statements the school had given them and what the bank's
records reflected, according to Jew.
Parents are also concerned about what has happened to another
$8,000 raised in a recent school event, he said.
It's pretty evident that bank statements were altered, Jew said.
A complete audit will show that "the record keeping is very
sloppy from previous years" and that more money may have
been embezzled, he said.
The money in the PTA account is raised through events like candy
sales and holiday sales and brings in a little at a time, Zhou
said. Funds collected are normally used for after-school activities
and Saturday sports for the school's students as well as emergency
Lorna Ho, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Unified School District,
said that the parents' claims are under investigation and that
the district is working with the district attorney's office.
"We take the matter very seriously and plan to get to the
bottom of the matter," she said.
PTA funds in general are not administered by the district but
at specific school sites, Ho said.
But if the investigation finds that money is missing and that
the loss is impacting children, "we will obviously take steps
to address that situation." Ho couldn't confirm whether that
meant the district would compensate the school financially for
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