It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that an “investigation” into something is an indication of wrongdoing.
That’s not always the case.
Enter Monique Braswell.
The Richmond County Council of PTAs president is demanding an apology from the district and the discipline, if not resignation, of state PTA officials. She says an investigation into her handling of funds as interim treasurer of Willis Foreman Elementary School PTA sullied her reputation.
Indeed, the audit by the state PTA “did not find any evidence that anyone had taken any PTA funds.”
Then again, district Superintendent Dr. Frank Roberson notes that no one accused Braswell of stealing.
This is where everyone involved, including the public, needs to guard against assuming anything – such as wrongdoing – if an audit or investigation is performed. Sometimes they are done just to find out what’s going on, or to see if there are irregularities – which, obviously, may not rise to the level of wrongdoing.
It’s unfortunate that a perception of wrongdoing may arise when someone hears of an “investigation.” Again, sometimes, it’s just checking on things.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with checking on PTA funds. In this case, the state sent the district a letter of noncompliance over the lack of a 2011-12 audit and membership and dues information. The district asked the state PTA to check it out.
The resulting audit turned up little more than bookkeeping and check-handling problems. Basically, procedures needed improvement.
We fear in lashing out at the district and state that Ms. Braswell may be overreacting. The audit did find issues with money handling, however innocuous. Moreover, school officials were apparently nonplussed by her refusal to release funds for an end-of-year event. The audit also cited an issue of $156 in unpaid state and national dues.
Ms. Braswell understandably didn’t appreciate the attention, but we don’t think it tainted her reputation. Most folks understand how hard it is to keep up with all the requirements of being a treasurer; once a nonprofit gets one, they like to keep him or her for a very long time, because it’s labor intensive and filled with responsibility.
Ms. Braswell is right to note they found no wrongdoing on her part. But let’s apply the same standard to the others; we find no wrongdoing on the district’s or state PTA’s, either.
We think it’s important for all the adults in this episode to cool down and work together, and exhibit a proper example for the kids they are all striving to serve.