GREENVILLE — The Greenville Department of Public Safety is investigating an embezzlement involving the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) at Walnut Hills Elementary School in Greenville.
On Jan. 11, information was brought forward about the PTO’s financial record-keeping, which led to the police investigation.
PTO President Christian Sowers said while he was reviewing accounts, he found charges he didn’t understand and noted potential inconsistencies in the applications of procedures.
“I asked our principal (Susan Ayres) for her advice and she asked the district’s director of finance (John Gilchrist) to look at our records,” Sowers said. “Both of the school’s administration suggested I meet with our full PTO board to discuss the concern. That group approved involving the police.”
Greenville Department of Public Safety Director Michael Pousak confirmed his department received a report from the PTO and is investigating an embezzlement. The missing amount is believed to be between $12,000 and $18,000, according to Pousak.
“We hope to have it wrapped up and everything to the (Montcalm County) prosecutor by Monday,” Pousak said. “There is a suspect.”
Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Peter Haines said PTOs are not directly affiliated with the school and are organizations that provide support for a variety of programs and needs not addressed in school operating budgets.
“In the last few years, our PTOs have made significant contributions for the purchase of playground equipment, classroom enhancements, special events and frequent additions to our library and media collections,” Haines said. “It will be most unfortunate if this ongoing investigation confirms that someone has misused the funds intended for the needs of our school children.
“We trust that in that event, any guilty party will be brought to justice, and that others, including the school district, will step up to fill any void left by such betrayal,” Haines added.
For now, Sowers is looking forward and making sure the PTO’s priority is the students.
“For now, remaining board members and other parents will continue to work on behalf of all the children at Walnut Hills,” Sowers said.