Question: How to deal with a crooked principal

I recently came across an article in the newspaper about our principal. I googled his name (on a hunch) because of several incidents involving our principal made me curious. To my surprise I found something. At the beginning of school we had $400 in petty cash that we leave in the schools safe that only the principal has the combination to. Two months into the year I asked him to get our bank bag out. Upon opening the bag I immediately noticed that we did not have $400 in the bag and asked him to check for another bank bag. He then made the comment; “I took money out to purchase gym equipment”. I immediately felt something wasn’t right and called our president and treasurer. We had not made any purchases this year and our principal had not asked if he could use it. So, the pres. and I sat down with the principal and asked these questions: 1. Why didn’t you contact us to take money out of the petty cash? his answer: “I forgot” 2. What did you buy? his answer: “ I purchased gym equipment for the gym teacher” 3. Do you have receipts? his answer: “ Yeah, I think so” He did give us a receipt for balls that he purchased from Walmart for $60. The gym teacher confirms he received them three weeks ago. 4. If you were not allowed on the checking account why would you think it would be ok to take money out of our petty cash? his answer: “ I’m sorry, I didn’t think you would of minded” At the beginning of the year we received a letter from the City stating that the schools principal could not be on the PTA/Booster checking account. He was removed. Not even a week later after we had talked to him he came to me and asked for money to buy toner for the office printer. Before I told him no, I asked, doesn’t that come from the schools account? He replied, yes and walked away. We’ve had numerous teachers come to us for funds for things that the school fund should pay for. One teacher commented “yeah, we can’t even get construction paper”. I am really curious now as to what this man is doing with the schools funds. What do I do? Who do I talk to? The plot thickens…. I found the news article after all of the above happened. The article was about the principal’s interest in opening charter schools and how the governor was against it. In the comments from the readers this is what I found… By Imagine December 2, 2009 11:19 AM Mr. XXX is a lier and a thive. Mr. XXX misused money from his last place of employment. When he was escorted out of the building, money was found in his desk. He lied about a teachers credintials. He brought over a buddy, said he was a teacher, and he was far from it. I feel sorry for any student who attends his school. BEWARE!! (copy/pasted from newspaper article online) I was blown away by the comment about the misuse of money and thought how much truth could there be to this. The comment about the buddy/teacher made it all the more interesting due to the fact that the principal has brought a friend in (a principal) to run a program in our school. Wow, how’s that for coincidence. So, I’m asking you for your suggestions on how to deal with this. Who do I go to? Does he have a criminal record, doesn’t the city do criminal background check when they hire? We’ve pulled out our money and checkbook from the safe and right now I have it at home. I need your help. Thanks.

Asked by Anonymous



Community Advice

Mrs. K writes:
Contact your school district's superintendent and let him/her know all this info. That's what I would do. Criminal records are public knowledge so you really should be able to find out if he's ever been prosecuted. Good Luck!

Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
What an unfortunate situation for your school! I want to reiterate what Mrs. K says below -- it's very important that you take this information to the superintendent immediately. Talk to him confidentially, and avoid the temptation to spread the story around the school. Let the superintendent handle this. Keep in mind that he'll need concrete evidence to fire the principal, so nothing public is likely to happen immediately. But that doesn't mean things aren't happening behind the scenes. Right now the evidence is only circumstantial, and making parents and teachers distrust the principal will only hurt the school. Keep the superintendent informed of any more irregularities that occur. In the meantime, as you've already done, stop keeping cash in the school safe or to keep a very limited amount their -- no more than, say, $30. Even then, clip the money to a sign-out sheet so that anyone who takes any can't miss the requirement to write down what was taken and what the money was for. If the principal requests money in the future, do the shopping for him or require receipts before you turn over the cash. And make sure he can't access PTO money in any way. If he's a signer on the checking account, take him off, etc. Theft happens when need (or desire) meets opportunity. You'll have to be aware at all times that you don't present an opportunity to the principal.

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