Richmond County Superintendent Frank Roberson has requested the Georgia PTA investigate the practices and financial condition of the Willis Foreman Elementary School PTA after various problems with bookkeeping and access to the chapter’s bank account arose this year.
Georgia PTA President Donna Kosicki will visit the school May 8 and meet with chapter officials to address the 2011-12 financial audit, membership information and dues that were never submitted to the state, which caused them to receive a noncompliance letter Feb. 1.
“I want the PTA functioning to support the school,” Roberson said. “They do things that support students, so we want that entity working.”
Willis Foreman Principal Brenda Taylor also contacted Roberson after she said the chapter’s treasurer, Monique Braswell, blocked the school’s PTA officers from accessing the chapter’s checkbook. Taylor said the school planned to fund an end-of-year field day and awards banquet with PTA fundraising money, but Braswell, who also serves as the president of the Richmond County Council of PTAs, refused to allocate money for the events.
Braswell was appointed interim treasurer in April 2012 to fill a vacancy for the position and was re-elected for the 2012-13 school year in November.
“We have been held hostage all year,” Taylor said. “We have $4,400 in the bank the parents have raised, but we haven’t been able to do a thing for them … this is something I haven’t experienced in 20 years working for PTA.”
Braswell said she has not released the funds because the school’s PTA is considered disbanded and does not have another executive board officer who can provide the required second signature on a check with her.
Willis Foreman PTA President Baine Flournoy submitted a letter of resignation to Braswell on behalf of himself, the vice president and secretary on Jan. 25 but rescinded it a day later. He cited Braswell’s refusal to address the school’s missing 2011-12 audit and membership information, and her skipping meetings as reasons for his resignation. Flournoy, however, rescinded it Jan. 26 after Taylor asked him to stay on and informed him the resignation never applied to the vice president and secretary because their signatures were not included on the initial letter.
In an April 7 e-mail, Kosicki acknowledged Flournoy rescinded his resignation on Jan. 26.
Braswell argues the resignations are still in effect and without another executive board officer to co-sign a check, she will not release the funds. Braswell also said the $1,400 for Honors Day and $1,300 for Field Day activities were not properly budgeted for at the beginning of the year.
“I’m not releasing the funds because they’re not in good standing and they don’t have officers,” Braswell said.
However, Taylor said the PTA traditionally funds these end-of-year events because the school’s general budget cannot support them. Roberson said Willis Foreman is working with the district’s internal auditor to find other ways to pay for the events.
Flournoy said he rescinded his resignation because he cares about the school and wants to see its finances get straightened out. But with Braswell’s refusal to give officers access to the checkbook and financial information, they were unable to make any purchases, such as incentives for students during Criterion Referenced Competency Test testing week.
There was also confusion about whether it was Flournoy’s or Braswell’s responsibility to conduct and submit the audit and membership dues and information to the state, which has still not been done. Kosicki said it was the treasurer’s job, but Braswell disagreed.
“This has been the worst nightmare you could imagine,” said Flournoy, whose daughter is in kindergarten at Willis Foreman. “This could have been a great program, and I wanted to do what was right. It’s a cat and mouse game now. We wait and see what happens. Me and Dr. Taylor have done everything we can.”