Audit: Clark-Pleasant employee mishandled funds

A treasurer at the now-defunct Sawmill Woods Preschool mishandled almost $16,000 in funds over the course of three years, a state audit revealed.

Clark-Pleasant schools became aware of discrepancies between the records extracurricular account treasurer Melinda Ross kept, and the receipts she deposited as part of her job through a review by an outside accounting firm. Ross paid Sawmill Woods the $15,715 in payments not deposited, and an additional $15,828 to the State of Indiana for special investigative costs, according to an Indiana State Board of Accounts audit filed Thursday.

The state’s investigation found Ross was in charge of not only accepting payments at Sawmill Woods, but writing receipts, depositing receipts and maintaining class spreadsheets. Most of the misappropriated funds came during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, when almost $12,500 was not accounted for, the audit showed.

Most of the discrepancies came in the form of credit card payments, according to state documents.

“Some receipts issued by Ross were marked with a payment type of credit card. However, after obtaining reports from the credit card vendor, 38 receipts totaling $10,880 were not processed by the credit card vendor,” the documents said.

A total of $2,650 not deposited came from nine separate occasions when a student’s account was marked as paid; $1,960 in misused funds came from receipts with notations noting students’ accounts as paid, but payments were not received or deposited; and $225 in cash and check payments could not be traced to a bank deposit, according to state documents.

State auditors discussed their findings with Ross in October, and with school officials, including superintendent Patrick Spray and school board president Craig Koch, in November, state documents show.

The state forwarded its report to the Indiana Attorney General and Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office. They will decide what, if any, charges to file.