I knew about this investigation and the results. I had being holding off on raising the issue until next week out of courtesy to the superintendent search. The Times got the info anyway. (I don't have a total for the amount of money that is likely gone/missing but I think it is around $20-30K which is a great deal of money for Van Asselt.)
From the Times:
Seattle police are investigating the possible misuse of school funds
by a former principal and a parent coordinator at Van Asselt Elementary
Former Principal ElDoris Turner retired March 16, two days after
being placed on administrative leave following the release of an ethics
investigation that found a "gross waste of public funds."
The parent coordinator, Ramona Fuentes, was fired Tuesday, according
to the school district.
The investigation, conducted by the Seattle Ethics and Elections
Commission, found $30,000 in unexplained cash withdrawals from an
unauthorized school bank account and sloppy record-keeping. In addition,
the investigation found that Turner accepted payments from a group
using the school gym and did not turn the money over to the district, as
I have read the investigation and frankly, it made me feel sick.
Principals know better and that this principal either didn't know or didn't follow protocol makes me very angry.
These are public buildings and fundraising funds and NO principal has the right to make up any kind of personal policy for his or her building.
But the 15-page report said neither offered "credible, documented
justification for the large amount of cash that was withdrawn from the
Account between January 2009 and June 2011."
The Seattle Police Department is investigating, said school-district
spokeswoman Lesley Rogers. Police would not release any information
Sherry Carr, as head of A&Finance, was justifiably unhappy but said that the emphasis on telling employees to report any issues had happened in this case. That is true but it took more than two years to fully come to light.
The probe started last spring after some Van Asselt parents and
teachers, interested in establishing a Parent Teacher Student
Association, asked how much money the school raised through fundraisers,
and how the money was spent, according to the city investigation.
Turner's responses did not satisfy the group.
Investigators said parents relayed concerns about the use of cash at
the school. Some said they'd seen a bag of money in a safe at the
office, Fuentes counting cash at her desk and a shoebox of money in
The checks written on this account passed muster. The issue was the cash withdrawals.
"Turner and Fuentes kept terrible records of the money that flowed
into and out of the Account," the investigation found.
While it was Fuentes' job to keep records, she described herself as
disorganized and forgetful and told investigators she had serious health
and money issues.
And yet Principal Turner kept using her to take care of fundraising dollars. Unbelievable.
Another issue was the use of the gym.
A school-district employee ran a business that used the gym for
The employee said he charged $3 to $5 at the door for the tournaments
and sold concessions.
The employee told investigators his business was a nonprofit, but
they determined it was not registered as one with the state.
Turner did not seem to think gym access was a big issue, according to
the investigation. She told investigators she thought white teachers
wanted to stop the employee from using the gym because he is a black
And again, we see race rearing its head in our district. This accusation by Turner sounds like shades of Silas Potter. We heard this from Greg King at Lowell in his investigation.
No one should be using race - in either direction - as a reason for behavior or actions involving their school. If there is an issue, they should go to their Executive Director or the Superintendent.