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Wake County School Focus of Missing Money Probe

Posted February 18, 2008

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— Three and a half years after a major fraud investigation, another case of missing money at a Wake County School is raising eyebrows.

The school system said a routine audit last summer may have found missing money at Leesville Middle School tied to uncashed checks that were tucked away.

Parent Lisa Boneham said the new Leesville principal confirmed during a December meeting that there was an investigation into missing money at the school.

“She did mention (uncashed) checks in odd places in the school – file drawers and storage closets," Boneham said.

School system officials said as much as $50,000 may be unaccounted for.

This probe comes after the 2004 multimillion-dollar fraud scandal at the school system's Transportation Department.

“It makes you wonder where the accountability was,” Boneham said.

Wake County School Board Member Lori Millberg said the system's own audit process – ramped up after the last fraud scandal – caught the Leesville problem.

“This is really evidence that our system is working. If you have a business the size of ours and you never identified an irregularity, that probably means you don't have a good control system,” Millberg said.

As a result of the investigation, the school system also identified a flaw in its financial record-keeping software and said that may have helped the Leesville problem evolve.

The school system has notified the maker of SchoolFunds software, TRA  School Software Solutions of Wilmington, and changes were made.

"The minute it was identified, it was stopped," Millberg said.

Once an audit is complete, Millberg said police will likely began investigating.

“I'd like to just know where the money went because it does affect programs in the school,” Boneham said.

In August 2004, officials began a fraud investigation that found at least $4 million was diverted from the Wake County Public School System in a scheme involving automotive-parts orders, then-employees of the Transportation Department and a Wilson-based automotive parts company, Barnes Motors & Parts.

Investigators said the suspects submitted fake orders for auto parts and bought gift cards, trucks, boats, trailers and other high-priced items for themselves with the money that supposedly was going for parts.

Seven people, including five former school system employees and two former Barnes' employees, were convicted and sentenced for their roles in the fraud scheme. Sentences ranged from 60 days to 11 years in prison.

The Wake County school system has recovered an estimated $5 million.


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  • carlostheass Feb 19, 2008

    "I'd just like to know how did a parent become a source of confirmation regarding the school's business. Is she the PTA President?" -- tawny

    No, just an average joe, just like all the WRAL stories about the school system. Once again, WRAL asks the parent with the biggest belt buckle what kind of job they think the school system administrators are doing. Never mind asking someone who is QUALIFIED and INVOLVED, just ask someone who will render an opinion in a few catchy lines. Nice reporting, fellas.

  • Sunkist Feb 19, 2008

    folks doing crazy stuff

  • UNC Doc Feb 19, 2008


    Who does the annual audit, how many auditors or there (and are they independent -- not employed by the state). The glut of money dumped into the WCPSS every year should require an entire department of people tracking finances.

  • lilwil Feb 19, 2008

    It's there a limit on when a check can be cashed, like 60 days/90 days...people can find all kinds of ways to reroute money, even checks. If anyone knows this, please advise...BUT DIDN'T THEY HAVE SOME SORT OF INK THAT WAS ERASABLE.

    Who were the checks made out to?. Now if the checks were made out to individuals. Someone got some explaining to do.

  • superman Feb 19, 2008

    Schools do not receive any large sums of money directly. Also for your info-- the school spends about 3 million dollars a day- they have an annual audit and so do the schools. So on an average month they spend 600 million dollars-- so if they spend that much they also have to get that much in revenue. That amounts to about 1,200,000,000 a month. That is no small amount to keep up with-- that is one billion, 200 million a MONTH. The school system receives very little in cash both at the school level and the admn level. The school food service is the only part of the school that would receive any sizeable cash money thru the school cafeteria. The bus shortage involved indivuals from the top to the bottom. That is very unusual and is not likely to happen often or again. Quit complaining about the schools-- they do a terrific job. Always a few bad apples in every barrel. Can you imagin the responsbility of handling 6 million dollars a day?

  • cbsconsult Feb 19, 2008

    susanbeth74: With respect to your statement - "With the rate Wake County has grown in that time frame, there should have been plenty of new tax revenue coming in to have kept up with new schools; however, they have not kept up and now there is all this year round drama." - I would remind you that the County Commissioners fund the School Board - NOT the other way around.

  • anti-Hans Feb 19, 2008

    Someone please help me here. I cannot figure this one out. They found UNCASHED checks and are syaing money is missing.

    Now, if they found checks cashed in different accounts than they should have gone to - there is a problem. But uncashed checks says just that, uncashed. Last time I checked, uncashed meant they are still sitting there waiting to go to the account.

    I hope someone can help me. Thanks.

  • Gottalovemy4dogs Feb 19, 2008

    I would love to see an investigation into the Wake County School Board regarding finances. I do not understand where all the tax money from the last 10-15 years has gone. With the rate Wake County has grown in that time frame, there should have been plenty of new tax revenue coming in to have kept up with new schools; however, they have not kept up and now there is all this year round drama. Families are being inconvenienced and the school board does not seem to care what the majority of the population wants. It all comes down to money and the school board should have to answer to where the money went and why.

  • lilwil Feb 19, 2008

    What a shame? Those we uphold to ensure the education of our children, yet behind the scenes are robbers. What is top management doing. There is no way those in top positions are unaware of what is going on...do they have checks and balances or at least make an attempt to check things out periodically, or daily.

  • Adelinthe Feb 19, 2008

    "The school system said a routine audit last summer may have found missing money at Leesville Middle School tied to uncashed checks that were tucked away."

    With caring teachers bearing so much of the expense in educating their students, this is a clear case of negligence and the individual should be fired without recourse.

    Praying for teachers and the students they care about.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB