Montgomery Public Schools has launched an investigation after a high school coach opened an unauthorized bank account and deposited school funds into it.
By the time the account was found, it contained less than $5,000. However, the account at one time held deposits of more than $40,000, according to Chief School Financial Officer Arthur Watts. He believes it was opened in mid-to-late December 2017.
The account was found in late December 2018 after the district’s finance department conducted an internal audit, Watts told the Montgomery Advertiser.
“The money was to go to the school and we could tell the money did not reach the school, that it was not deposited in their account,” Watts said.
“It is still under investigation at the current time and I can’t make comments as it relates to personnel issues; however, there was an account set up outside of the school books,” Watts said.
The account has also been reported to the Alabama Ethics Commission.
No actions have been taken against the employee.
“We want to give every individual the opportunity to explain and provide us information. So we’re not trying to jump the gun. We just want to make sure we have everything detailed,” he said.
When asked if it were possible the employee wasn’t aware of the district’s policy regarding accounts, Watts said, “I believe that the processes were well-established and well-known.”
“I’m very, very disappointed, especially when we have taken out the time to go over the procedures with these individuals,” he said about finding the account. “We try very hard to ensure all of our employees understand the policies and procedures as it relates to money.”
Finding the account, he said, “states that we intend to be accountable with the public’s dollars and when we find any type of misuse or questionable activity, we intend to deal with it. … I have no doubt that if some improprieties or something illegal has taken place that the board would take the necessary disciplinary actions.”
“I know how much money was deposited in that account. I want to determine if all of that money was spent on student activity,” Watts said about the district’s investigation. “I know the processes weren’t followed as far as collecting and depositing of funds but were all of these dollars spent on the students?”
Watts said he plans to present Superintendent Ann Roy Moore a report of his findings by the end of the week so, “then she’ll have the ability to make a recommendation to the board.”
Watts reported the account to the board during a Jan. 31 meeting.
At the time he did not disclose the amount of money involved, but did tell board members, “we do have a situation at Brew Tech High School in which a coach pretty much has deposited funds, district funds, in an outside, unauthorized account.”
As CSFO, Watts told board members Alabama law requires him to notify each board member of any financial transactions that he deems “nonroutine, unusual, without legal authorizations, or not in compliance with the fiscal management policies of the board.”