According to documents obtained by a source, the South Hills High School was able to spend $15,000 from its student-run account after paying off employee T-shirts, staff appreciation lunches, and 3 beach resort trips for the last 2 years.
School districts are not allowed to use funds of the Associate Student Body (ASB) for any staff training, faculty meetings, employee meals, or any other costs that do not benefit the students directly. There are ASB fraud prevention guidelines that are referenced in the own policy of the district when it comes to student funds.
The state’s Association of Student Councils executive director June Thompson said that the student funds are not allowed to be spent for anything, which must be paid for by the school budget. Thompson highlighted that ASB money is the money that comes directly from student pockets. Technically speaking, the students have the rights to supervise the expenditures of ASB money, mainly because it is the students’ money.
Based on the meeting minutes, the students voted on the purchase orders in some cases, while the students signed off on the said purchases at the same time as over 100 other orders. The majority of the ASB’s funds come from the students paying for transportation fees, ASB cards, including game-day tickets.
About $10,000 of the ASB money were spent to administrative retreats, specifically a 2013 and a 2014 beach trips. Part of the money was likewise used in an athletic summit for coaches, according to the documents disclosed by the district.
During the school year 2014-15, over $2,400 went to the staff T-shirt expenses, while another $1,500 were used in covering “staff appreciation” lunches, plus another $954 tab to a restaurant in 2013. A separate amount of $500 was also used in covering a seminar for the former principal of the school, who resigned early this year for a new job in another county.
All of that money came from the ASB sub-account, appearing as “miscellaneous” expenses. South Hills was able to spend $30,000 from the same account in school year 2014-15, half of which went to expenses prohibited by the state law. When compared, the financial records indicate only a total of $927 expenses from the similar account in school year 2011-12.
Meanwhile, another high school in the county, which has a different ASB director, spent a total of $1,014 in 2014-15 from their miscellaneous account. The Unified School District stated that it has received a total of $11,000 in donations in covering the meals, T-shirts, and retreats, according to Jennifer Root, Chief Business Officer. However, ASB financial documents that were provided through April 2015 did not indicate any transfers-in transaction. Spokesman Stephen Nichols stated that those donations were intended to replenish the expenses, although the transfer process is still being made.
Nichols stated that the money was spent as a mistake, and not with ill-intent. Hence, the district is well-aware of such discrepancies as it will look at their practices, according to Nichols, emphasizing that they have to be ensured the funds are used appropriately.
The district officials will continue to monitor the accounts, and review the ASB process if needed. Nichols made an assurance that the district will do the right thing.