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How did nearly $50,000 go missing from a Natomas elementary school?

The missing funds totaling more than $47,000 stem from the 2019 PTA, said Deidra Powell, a spokesperson for NUSD.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nearly three years after tens of thousands of dollars went missing from the Natomas Park Elementary School PTA, officials with the Natomas Unified School District (NUSD) are searching for answers.

The missing funds totaling more than $47,000 stem from the 2019 PTA, said Deidra Powell, a spokesperson for NUSD.

NUSD filed a police report in October 2019 after learning of the issue, Powell said. District officials requested financial disclosure documents from the Natomas Park Elementary PTA who has been uncooperative.

To make matters more difficult, the Natomas Park Elementary PTA shut down in 2020, members wrote on their Facebook page. Members in 2020 cited unsuccessful attempts to resolve the financial issues, even after oversight from the Third District PTA which oversees the program.

The issue has remained unresolved since but now the school district wants answers, Powell said. Officials with NUSD filed a police report on April 23 requesting charges in the matter, the district is waiting for a response.  

“We just want to get to the bottom of it and find out what happened, how did it happen and really prevent that from happening again,” Powell said.

Melinda Wilson was the NPE-PTA Treasurer from 2019 to 2020. She told ABC10 that the PTA alerted the school principal after discovering the missing funds as early as September 2019. She claims the principal requested they not file a police report. 

"The 2019-2020 NPE PTA board filed a police report in October 2019 in an attempt to compel the prior treasurer to return the books and for insurance purposes," said Wilson. "The principal asked that a police report not be filed and asked the 2019-2020 NPE PTA board to keep this information private."

In Wilson's statement, she continues to say that the board worked to try to restore the chapter’s 501c3 status and bring the outstanding prior years’ taxes up to date.

“However, it was determined that this needed a more experienced, or forensic, accountant’s help, and the matter was turned over to the 3rd District PTA,” said Wilson.

However, since the principal has previously requested to keep the missing funds private, Wilson claims the board was advised not to provide financial documentation to the school administrator. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a mixture of canceled events and lack of volunteers caused the NPE PTA to dissolve.

Wilson claims the investigation and all documents were passed along to the 3rd District PTA and none of the 2019-2020 board members have been involved since then.

“I do not know why the school’s admin waited until now to do anything about the financial issues as they have known since 2019,” said Wilson.

Parent-Teacher Associations are school-sanctioned partners, but operate independently with their own elected board and are tasked with managing their own finances.  

“This means that there will be no more PTA-sponsored events or fundraisers at Natomas Park Elementary, including no more Back to School ice cream social, Coyote Carnival, holiday gift buying events for students, winter dance, family reading night, food trucks on campus, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for families of students in need, snacks for students during the standardized tests, or teacher appreciation week lunches/goodies,” 2020 Natomas Park Elementary PTA members wrote on their Facebook page last November.

The Sacramento Police Department said it does have a report on file for a "possible theft" of the PTA funds. Detectives say the investigation is active.

Immediate request for comment from former the Third District PTA was not immediately returned as of Tuesday evening.

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