Police, Pleasant Lake Elementary PTA investigate financial records

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 5, 2016

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WALLED LAKE — The Pleasant Lake Elementary PTA announced April 29 that it is cooperating with the West Bloomfield Police Department on an investigation into the PTA’s financial records. 

More than $6,100 in questionable charges are being investigated. 

According to West Bloomfield Deputy Police Chief Curt Lawson, the alleged embezzlement occurred from Sept. 1, 2014, to April 26, 2016. Police are investigating a 35-year-old West Bloomfield resident who was a member of the PTA and had access to the funds. This member reportedly resigned April 26. 

PTA president Sharyn Gallatin said in a letter to Pleasant Lake families about the investigation that the school’s PTA funds are separate from the funds of Pleasant Lake Elementary and the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools district. 

“Immediately upon learning about the financial discrepancies with the Pleasant Lake Elementary’s PTA financial reporting this week, we began an internal PTA/school/district investigation. Today, Friday, April 29, I gave all of the records to the West Bloomfield Police Department. We will be cooperating fully with the West Bloomfield police as they work to resolve and unravel this situation,” Gallatin stated in the letter. 

Lawson said it is alleged that the suspect made unauthorized transactions via the Pleasant Lake Elementary PTA checking account, and a debit card linked to the account reportedly was discovered in her name. At press time, police were not sure if the suspect’s possession of the debit card led to unauthorized use. 

“Once the president of the PTA discovered the discrepancies, she notified Pleasant Lake Elementary’s principal, and it’s my understanding they are conducting an internal investigation,” Lawson said. 

The PTA raises money throughout the year, which is then used to help purchase supplies and technology for the classroom, Gallatin said in a phone interview. The PTA also sponsors activities like a fun run, a trick-or-treating event, a movie night and a field day. 

“We’re working with our administration and with the district to ensure that all events that were scheduled to go on for the kids and families of Pleasant Lake continue to do so,” Gallatin said. 

The PTA also is reviewing its financial practices to ensure incidents like this do not happen again. For example, the members have discussed making sure at least two people sign all checks in the future and that there is accurate financial accounting each month, Gallatin explained.

Judy Evola, director of community relations and marketing for the district, said the school and district “remain hopeful that the West Bloomfield police will be able to recover some of this money.” 

Anyone with questions about the investigation is asked to email Gallatin at sharyn@gallatin.ws or Principal Nayal Maktari at nayalmaktari@wlcsd.org.

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