Red Bank Elementary PTA faces questions on spending - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Red Bank Elementary PTA faces questions on spending

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RED BANK, TN (WRCB) -- We may know Thursday the results of a central office investigation into allegations of "irregularities" in the finances of the Parent Teacher Association at Red Bank Elementary.

None too soon for PTA member Teresa McNabb. "I'd just like to know where all the money went and what's all come up missing," she says.

Chapter President DeeJay Mizzell tells Channel 3 she's been asked not to comment until the District investigation is completed.

Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith won't specify whether the alleged wrongdoing involves misspending or poor record-keeping.

There are things occurring both at the system with our finance office and at the Red Bank Elementary School," Smith told Channel 3 after his 'State of the Schools' Address Wednesday afternoon.

But the rules are specific. "Two people have to sign the check before you can draw from a PTA bank account," says Dwight Hunter, President-elect of the Hamilton County Council of PTAs. "Both have to be Chapter officers. In most Chapters, it's the President or Treasurer."

But bylaws do not require that the Treasurer be bonded. "You don't see any changes around here," Ms. McNabb says. "They're not buying new playground equipment or books."

Tennessee's PTA requires each individual chapter to audit itself annually. The Audit Committee cannot include anybody with the authority to draw from the bank accounts. The audit must include monthly bank statements, receipts for everything bought or services rendered, and the Treasurer's monthly reports.

Most significantly, PTAs are tax-exempt organizations, subject to filing requirements with the Internal Revenue Service.  "The short-form 990E requires you to spell out how much your raised, and what you spent for what," Hunter says. "If you don't file it, you lose your tax-exempt status. You could be courting fines too."

"I'm hoping for a resolution of at least some of this Thursday," Superintendent Smith says.

The general membership had the opportunity to ask questions at a meeting Tuesday night, according to Red Bank Elementary Principal Haley Brown.

"I opened the floor, but nobody asked anything," Ms. Brown says.

At the very least, parents have learned that running their school's PTA puts more than time on the line.

Teresa McNabb vows to become more active, even if it means more scrutiny. And second-guessing. "Cause it (the money) is supposed to be for the kids," she says. "And you don't know where it's going."

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