Photo Credit: TN Comptroller’s Office
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released an investigative report that outlines misappropriated funds by Greenbrier High School in Robertson County, TN totaling nearly nine thousand dollars.
The GHS bookkeeper, who was responsible for receipting all school collections, making bank deposits, preparing and signing checks, recording all financial transactions, and reviewing and reconciling bank statements was found to have misappropriated at least $8,797.75.
The Comptroller’s report stated, “She perpetuated her misappropriation by withholding some cash and check collections from bank deposits, failing to receipt some collections, and failing to record some collections in the school’s accounting records.”
The school bookkeeper fabricated collection logs to conceal her misappropriation no less than 15 times in 2021. After a review of collection logs found at her home, investigators determined that she created new logs that excluded cash and check collections totaling $389 and failed to receipt $750 in collections during the month of January 2021.
The investigation was initiated after officials reported several discrepancies while attempting to complete bank deposits following the death of the school’s bookkeeper on February 8th, 2021.
As a result of the death of the former bookkeeper, any further criminal investigation or prosecution in this matter has been abated. However, pursuant to T.C.A. § 20-5-103, the death does not abate any civil cause of action that Robertson County Schools might otherwise have against the estate or personal representative of the former bookkeeper for recovery of misappropriated or converted funds.
The results of the investigation were communicated with the Office of the District Attorney General of the 19th Judicial District.
As a result of the investigation, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office released a report outlining internal control and compliance deficiencies at Greenbrier High School.
The report states, “Our investigation revealed deficiencies in internal controls and compliance, some of which enabled the bookkeeper to misappropriate funds without prompt detection.”
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These deficiencies included:
Deficiency 1: School officials failed to separate financial duties and provide adequate oversight
School officials failed to separate incompatible financial duties and provide adequate oversight. The bookkeeper was responsible for receipting collections, preparing bank deposits, preparing and signing checks, posting financial transactions, and reviewing and reconciling the bank account. Separating financial duties and providing adequate oversight reduces the risk that undetected errors or misappropriations will occur.
Deficiency 2: School officials failed to ensure collections were deposited intact
School officials failed to ensure that collections were deposited intact. The bookkeeper did not deposit some collections in the amounts in which they were collected. Through her manipulation of collections and records, the amount of cash she deposited frequently did not agree with the amount of cash that teachers remitted to her. Ensuring that collections are made intact and match the cash and check makeup of the money remitted by teachers reduces the risk that undetected errors or misappropriations will occur.
Deficiency 3: School officials failed to ensure that employees accurately documented sales and collections
The Tennessee Internal School Uniform Accounting Policy Manual (manual) requires that “at the time of collection, individuals collecting money should prepare prenumbered receipts, collection logs, or other appropriate documentation.” Investigators observed the following instances of noncompliance with the manual:
a. Collection logs were reused multiple times by school employees, making it difficult to determine when specific items were collected, when they should have been remitted to the bookkeeper, and when they were ultimately receipted and deposited into the bank account. Investigators observed this practice on the collection logs of nearly every fundraiser during the period reviewed.
b. Ticket reconciliations were both incomplete and mathematically inaccurate on no less than five occasions during the period reviewed. Amounts reported as collected and remitted for deposit did not agree with the number of tickets sold. In some instances, documents did not contain enough information for investigators to determine what amount should have been remitted for deposit.
c. On several occasions investigators noted there was no record of collections for funds that were deposited into the school’s bank account. This included ticket sales for an event and records for fundraisers. Without documentation of what was collected, investigators were unable to determine the amount that should have been remitted for deposit.
The Comptroller’s office states that Greenbrier High School officials have indicated they have corrected or intend to correct these deficiencies.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com