Another PTA embezzler sentenced to jail

Don’t try this at home.

From the Roanoke (Virginia) Times:

Despite repaying the almost $25,000 she stole and reading a tearful apology to Cave Spring Elementary School in court, Melissa Brown Neal earned a sentence of six months in jail for embezzling and forging checks from the school’s PTA.

Neal, 38, was sentenced Monday in Roanoke County Circuit Court to four years for two felony convictions of forgery and eight years for two felony convictions of embezzlement. Judge Jim Swanson suspended all but 180 days in jail and four years probation from that 12-year sentence. Neal will learn next week whether she will be eligible to serve the 180 days on house arrest, which would allow her to continue to work.

Neal’s attorney, Tony Anderson, had asked the judge not to send her to jail because she had repaid the group in full and given back to the community.

“Once all this came to light, you did everything right,” Swanson told Neal before stating her sentence. “It doesn’t erase that what you did occurred, what you did was wrong, what you did was recurrent.”

Swanson added that he sentenced her to jail because of the message it would send back to the teachers, students and families who know about the situation and had supported the PTA.

Neal, a mother and accountant, was the group’s volunteer treasurer since 2006. During the 2009-2010 school year she wrote checks to herself and signed the name of the PTA president, according to court documents.

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Atlanta schools get some support

If anyone needs a morale boost going into the school year, it’s these folks. Still, I hope the PTAs involve will push for reform rather than simply support the status quo, which is all too often the case with parent-teacher groups.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The message was clear from signs, T-shirts and posters all around Centennial Olympic Park: It’s been a tough summer for Atlanta Public Schools, but as the school year approaches there’s a need for parents, educators and community members to “Support the Good.”

With that in mind, about 300 people attended a Thursday night rally hosted by the Atlanta Council of PTAs. Participants listened to teachers, parents, city leaders and school board members who tried to shed some positive light on a district that’s attracted mostly negative attention in recent months.

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Speakers highlighted the long-term positive gains in test scores, even in recent years as state monitors have stepped in to ensure tests were not compromised. Twenty-one Atlanta Public Schools students have been awarded 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarships — one of the highest numbers of any school district in the nation.

(Note: Gates scholarships, funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda are designed to meet 100 percent of financial need and are awarded to minority students on the basis of academic excellence and financial need.)

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