CFO on leave as $3 million in checks found undeposited
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.