March 2009

PTOs in the city must now share monthly financial statements with their executive boards and conduct annual audits. In addition, they must have two signatures to withdraw funds from PTO accounts. The superintendent of schools met with PTO leaders in January to explain the new rules.

The New Bedford Police Department has announced plans to work with the school district to review the financial accounts of all other school parent groups in the city, which has a population of 92,000.

In the four unrelated cases, the women were charged with taking amounts ranging from $1,800 to $38,596 from PTOs at four schools beginning in 2003. Three of the women worked for the school district during the time they allegedly embezzled funds, as a teacher, a parent-teacher liaison, and a secretary; all four had children in district schools. New PTO presidents found irregularities in the books, which triggered the police investigation.

The women allegedly used the funds for personal expenses, including travel to a beauty pageant, charges at a casino, rent, and utility bills. If convicted of the charges, each defendant could be fined up to $25,000 and sentenced to up to five years in state prison.