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National PTA Gives Audio Advice on Preventing Fraud

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Search for "PTA embezzlement" online, and the results reveal cases coast-to-coast in which local PTAs lost thousands of dollars to office holders who tapped the funds for their personal use.

One of the biggest and highest-profile cases recently occurred in Brooklyn, where a former PTA treasurer pleaded guilty to embezzling $82,000 from her child's elementary school, P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill. In West Orange, NJ, a former PTA president is accused of taking $101,000.

And in Sunnyvale, Calif., two separate cases have emerged at elementary schools—one for $21,000, and another in which $16,000 was embezzled through a PTO.

National PTA recently released a podcast addressing this issue: "Preventing Embezzlement from Your PTA," featuring an interview with Laura Bay, secretary-treasurer of the National PTA.

"Units should always remember that fraud happens or embezzlement when there is opportunity, when there is motivation, and when there is rationalization," she says on the recording.

All PTAs should look for warning signs and make sure they have procedures in place so that there are signatures on every check, so someone is always checking monthly statements besides the treasurer, Bay says.

An audit should be ordered when there is suspicion that money is missing. If that suspicion is confirmed, PTA leaders should contact the police and their insurance company, Bay advises.

For more information, listen to the podcast.

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