Forget bake sales. Cut us a check!

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Momania blog has a post today on a new-ish fundraising technique for PTAs. Forget Sally Foster (giftwrapping paper); parents are being asked to simply write checks to the PTA.  Hey, it’s down to that, right? Let’s stop being coy and remember, Give until it hurts!

I just had to include this comment from Momcat On the Momania blog post:

Almost $2000 of our PTA budget was earmarked to laminate the class roster (could be emailed to 98% parents at no cost) and water bottles for parents on “meet the teacher” night. What a waste. PTA president said that money could not be spent for additional teacher supplies. Yep… I scaled back my donation. I wish more people would get involved. Your eyes would be opened.

Read more.


DeKalb School Board goes to the Dark Side

Update–the lighter side of dark: AJC has been criticized for its coverage of this issue, since officials claim that formulating a response to SACS does not involve meeting as a body (hence, no violations of the Open Meetings Act). Anyway, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has responded to the accreditation agency’s letter (Don’t worry, be happy). More informative is Board Member Nancy Jester’s blog, which provides a model of organization on the issue.

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The accreditation agency that has already placed the DeKalb County School System on “advisement”—meaning the system is not fully accredited—has sent a letter to DeKalb officials asking for a response to scores of complaints of mismanagement, malfeasance, and wrongdoing.  After opening a meeting to discuss the matter, the board closed its proceedings, putting itself in murky legal waters, since the the Open Meetings Act doesn’t specify an exception “to discuss our shortcomings.”

“The goal is to be as open and transparent as possible,” school board Chairman Eugene Walker was quoted as saying before he led the vote to shut out the public.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

The three-page letter, received Aug. 29 and addressed to Atkinson, gave the superintendent 30 calendar days to respond. It expressed “significant concern” about whether DeKalb was meeting “at least” two of five accreditation standards.

Elgart said last week that SACS had received at least 50 complaints from parents, school staffers and others about matters including board members pressuring principals to take certain actions and also exerting influence over personnel decisions. Board members are not supposed to get involved in such administrative decisions. Meanwhile, the board is accused of failing to approve accurate budgets, and of wasting money on expenses such as legal fees.

SACS already has the school system on “advisement,” a step below full accreditation, and has been pressuring officials for change since at least 2010.

Read more.

Maureen Downey has a post up on this travesty on her Get Schooled blog.

Treasurer charged with taking PTA money for vacation—to Sandusky, Ohio?

After sending the kids back to college, running a booth at the Decatur Book Festival, switching editors for my next book, and, oh, yeah, writing, I’m just trying to keep up with this stuff. But I had to include this tidbit, especially because the funds were used for such a … modest end.


CARRICK, Pa. — A woman is facing charges after police said she stole money from a Carrick elementary school’s parent-teacher association and used it to go on vacation.

Investigators said the PTA treasurer at Concord Elementary School stole $6,000. Officials said the money was intended to be used for student field trips.

Police said Cathy Weinmann used the cash to pay a cellphone bill, take a trip to Sandusky, Ohio, pay for turnpike tolls and for food at Sam’s Club.

Weinmann faces theft charges.

A rare sentence: jail time for PTA embezzler

I’ve been following these cases for more than a year, and usually the culprit gets off with a sentence of probation, community service, and restitution.  Well, this crime happened in Texas, where there’s often more hell to pay, and Ms Gray (no relation to Chain Gang Elementary‘s PTO President, Richard Gray) is going to serve some time for the crime.

Brad Kellar reports in the Greenville Herald-Banner:

A former president of a local elementary school parent-teacher association has been placed on probation and ordered to serve almost six months in jail, after pleading guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the organization.

Amy Gray of Greenville had received an indictment for forgery from the Hunt County grand jury in April. The indictment included 21 separate counts, alleging Gray wrote forged checks on the account of the Bowie Elementary School PTA.

Gray entered the guilty plea during a hearing Wednesday morning in the 196th District Court. Under a plea bargain agreement, Gray was placed on five years of probation, was ordered to complete 400 hours of community service, was sentenced to 180 days in the Hunt County Jail and was ordered to write a letter of apology to her victims.

Gray was facing a maximum sentence of up to two years in a state jail for a conviction on the charge.

Gray had applied for probation, should she be convicted of the indictment and the sentence imposed is 10 years or less, as she has never been convicted of a felony.

Gray’s family members said the entire missing amount has been repaid.

The indictment alleged Gray passed 21 checks between August 20 and November 27, 2011, in amounts ranging from $108.93 to more than $3,900 each. The total amount Gray was alleged to have stolen came to just under $20,000.

Decatur Book Festival 2012

(Photo by Laurel Grant)

We had another successful showing at the Decatur Book Festival this year, marking the debut of my second novel, Brambleman. (You can see my wife, Judy, at the far right. My kids, Laurel and Nathan, also helped out a lot.)  This time we sold eBooks out of the booth by putting coupon codes on postcards and offering a special deal: both Chain Gang Elementary and Brambleman for only $5. We plan to be back next year with a third novel, Party to a Crime, which is with the editor now.

Below: The Chain Gang Crew  Nathan, Judy, and Laurel.