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CFO on leave as $3 million in checks found undeposited

Monday, June 25, 2012

(Photo)
Copy of $2,903,489 check and June 19 deposit ticket displayed at Greencastle School Board meeting Saturday morning at Ridpath School.
The situation in front of the Greencastle School Board Saturday morning had all makings of an intricate mystery novel:

-- More than $3 million in undeposited checks found in the CFO's office, some of the 119 checks written as long ago as March 3.

-- The CFO unavailable to provide any reason for the irregularity since he was on a remote camping trip with no cell phone coverage.

-- Undeposited checks found in his office, in his safe and even stashed under papers on his desk.

-- The situation coming to light only after the Greencastle superintendent called the county treasurer to ask when the corporation might be expecting its $2.9 million June tax draw.

-- The superintendent calling her staff to search for one check in the CFO's office and subsequently finding 119.

-- The school board president holding up copies of checks and photos of loose cash also found in the CFO's office in front of the board and a roomful of others.

"It all reads a little bit like a John Grisham novel," said Greencastle City Council President Adam Cohen, one of more than two dozen people in the audience for the Saturday morning school board meeting.

It was a special session that led to the Greencastle Board of School Trustees placing the corporation's chief financial officer, Clayton Slaughter, on paid administrative leave until July 2.

The school board and administration want Slaughter to explain why more than $3 million in checks written to the Greencastle Community School Corporation (GCSC) -- including the mid-year tax draw from the Putnam County Treasurer's Office -- were found undeposited in his office.

After all, Indiana code requires that all public funds must "be deposited not later than the business day following the receipt of funds."

The check from the Putnam County Treasurer's Office was issued on May 24 and went undeposited until GCSC Supt. Lori Richmond called Treasurer Sharon Owens to see when the corporation might expect its final June tax draw.

Owens alerted Richmond that a $2,903,489 check written on May 24 and delivered to CFO Slaughter was still outstanding as of June 18.

In all, 119 checks totaling $3,031,347.88 -- representing funds from three grants, vendors, rebates, book fees and even a $22,000 insurance settlement on the Deer Meadow roof issue -- were found undeposited in Slaughter's office.

To the school board, the problem goes even beyond the $3.03 million figure.

"Has anyone calculated how much interest we've lost because of this?" board member Mike Dean asked.

Hearing no response to his question, he added, "If it's $10, it's too much."

Board member Bill Tobin, who made the motion to put Slaughter on paid leave until his vacation ends and the CFO can return to answer questions, said the undeposited checks also contributed to "lost cashflow."

But to the best of their knowledge, both Richmond and the school board say that apparently no taxpayer funds have been misappropriated as a result of the CFO's alleged failure to deposit corporation funds in accordance with the law.

Prior to the 4-0 vote to place Slaughter on paid administrative leave, school board member Mike White asked board president Bruce Stinebrickner to explain "why exactly we're not terminating (Slaughter) today."

Stinebrickner, looking to board attorney Bob Rund for advice, indicated that Slaughter should be given an opportunity to defend himself for his actions -- or inaction -- as it appears.

"These are such unusual circumstances," Stinebrickner noted.

Because the CFO is currently on a remote camping trip to Canada, he could not be reached via telephone or even email. Slaughter will be sent a letter to his Bloomington home, advising him of the action taken by the school board Saturday morning.

He was represented in the audience by his wife, Tara Slaughter, who said her husband will be out of the country until June 30. She also advised that his GCSC email account has been disabled and all incoming emails are being redirected to Supt. Richmond's account.

More than two dozen members of the public, many of whom were teachers or administration members past and present, attended the 65-minute meeting at the corporation offices at Ridpath Primary School.

Also in the audience was Gary Haussin, the new Greencastle Township appointee to the school board, whose appointment will not become official until July 1 in replacing Kelly Lewis.

In the only other action taken Saturday, the school board unanimously approved a pay schedule rotation reflecting the need for 27-week pay periods in certain years for certified, hourly, non-professional 12-month employees.


Comments
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Why is the CFO for GHS not resident of Greencastle? It would be a high paying job contributing to the Greencastle economy rather than the Bloomington economy. Trickle down economy at it's best, another house sold, shopping done locally, restaurants used, possibly children enrolled in our schools and taxes paid here. Hard to believe no one is qualified to do the job that would be asked to live where you are employed.

-- Posted by Ed46135 on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 7:24 AM

I agree with Ed46135!!!

-- Posted by macvrod on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 8:01 AM

Shouldn't the treasurer be held accountable for this as well? Seems that the actual deposit should ONLY be done at a bank, rather than the aforementioned.

-- Posted by mykegeegee on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 9:25 AM

also, why live in Greencastle, when you could live in Bloomington...

-- Posted by mykegeegee on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 9:26 AM

I'm sure there is more to this than what is being reported!

-- Posted by dandygrandy on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 8:27 PM

Why isn't the Banner Graphic staff asking the obvious questions at the board meetings?

I've heard that Slaughter met with City Council to report on illegal things that had been happening in GCSC. He was supposed to be fired, but claimed whistleblower status, and was subsequently locked out of his office. Where Dr. Richmond then found stuff on his desk?

Even if that's not true, our newspaper isn't asking the right questions. You have done nothing that resembles an investigation.

Yet, whenever you get the chance to tell the whole story on someone (not in power) who made a poor choice, you tell all.

We need the newspaper in town to report on what is happening, and dig deeper to find the real story. Not post only the corporation's side of things and delete comments critical of the corporation from the website!

-- Posted by tjwade12 on Tue, Jun 26, 2012, at 9:59 AM

The story about Clayton Slaughter's handling of his responsibilities as CFO of the GCSC is especially troubling because he has both a law degree and a doctorate in education. According to his own website, he specializes in education law.

One assumes he will be removed from his position as soon as he returns to Indiana. It is difficult to understand a formal statement by school board praising the superintendent of schools. Is she responsible for his employment as CFO of the GCSC? Why did she fail to notice that state funds were missing for several weeks?

-- Posted by YEOMAN on Tue, Jun 26, 2012, at 12:38 PM

To the members of City Council: Your appointment to the school board in a few days will send a message to your constituents, are you happy with the status quo and what is happening to our schools, or are you going to appoint someone who truly cares about the kids and teachers and will stand up for their beliefs to both the administration and other school board members? This might read like a "Grisham novel" to some, but it's about real people who have lost their jobs, have gotten cuts in pay and/or benefits, and most importantly it's about our kids. Good teachers are leaving because of what is going on. Please take the time to carefully and thoughtfully consider your appointment. Our kids are at stake!

-- Posted by 3m50 on Tue, Jun 26, 2012, at 1:09 PM

The Greencastle School Corporation has some major issues and they begin with Dr. Richmond. She brought the CFO with her from Bloomington, where she also lives. Teachers and employees don't know who they can trust. Please, is there someone that can help our schools as this also affects our students.

-- Posted by ruresponsibleornot on Tue, Jun 26, 2012, at 6:28 PM

Wow, seems I don't need to comment anymore, just to have it removed. Finally people are getting it!

-- Posted by kbmom on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 9:36 AM


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