Warren Easton Charter High School’s annual financial audit has revealed a $70,000 discrepancy in the school’s student activity funds, and the New Orleans Police Department is investigating the matter as a theft by a former employee.
The incident, reported to police in December, occurred between March 2019 and July 2020, according to the school’s annual financial audit released Monday. The audit does not reveal the name of the employee accused of stealing the money but says that the person is no longer employed by the school.
“The Business Manager of the School fraudulently absconded with $70,842 of Student Activity Funds,” the audit states.
Asked whether any arrests had been made, an NOPD spokesman wrote, “We have not been made aware of any arrests at this time in this investigation.”
In a written statement, Easton’s charter board president David Garland confirmed an investigation is ongoing.
“We discovered inconsistencies in our student activity funds during our annual audit,” Garland wrote. “We reported these inconsistencies to NOLA-Public Schools, the State Auditing Agency and NOPD as required by law.”
A call from the school on Dec. 1 initially reporting the incident was categorized by authorities as ‘theft by embezzlement.’
Garland, along with Principal Mervin Jackson and CFO Lindsay Carter provided statements to the NOPD, according to an initial NOPD incident report reviewed by The Lens. The report also states Ulysses Collins, the NOLA Public Schools district’s Chief Safety, Discipline, and District Operated Schools Officer, was present as well.
Student activity funds are collected by a variety of school employees or heads of student organizations, including sports teams or clubs, and are cataloged in a receipt system.
“Carter stated the cash turned in to the administration office went missing between there and the bank,” according to the police report.
In an email, Garland explained that the school has implemented new policies as a result of the incident. Previously, the business manager was in charge of “collection, recording and reconciliation of all Student Activity Funds,” the audit states.
“Students activity funds are independent accounts for student funded activities. Protocols recommended by our auditors have been implemented to prevent this from happening in the future,” he wrote. “Because this is an ongoing investigation we are prohibited from commenting on any details.”