Prineville PTO funds missing; treasurer cited

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: May 09. 2007 5:00AM PST

The treasurer of the parent-teacher organization at Prineville’s Crooked River Elementary School was cited Sunday on a charge that she wrote checks to herself from the PTO’s account totaling more than $8,000, Prineville Police Chief Eric Bush said.

Wendy Tyger, 36, of Prineville, was cited over the weekend on suspicion of first-degree felony theft, according to a statement from Crook County Superintendent Steve Swisher. Bush said Tyger was cooperative with the authorities and was issued a citation instead of being taken into custody.

Tyger could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Bush said a criminal investigation into the alleged theft has been going on for about 2 1/2 weeks. The concerns were first brought to police attention by other members of the PTO, he said.

“What happens most of the time (in cases like this) is people look at what their balance is and they think, ‘Gee, we haven’t written that many checks,’ and then they start looking a little bit deeper,” Bush said. “At some point, (the PTO) came to the conclusion that they might have been the victim of theft.”

Tyger has a child at the elementary school and was the PTO’s treasurer but not an authorized check signer, Swisher said. The organization raises money for school programs and activities, but it is not overseen by the school district. As of Tuesday afternoon, Tyger was still listed as the organization’s treasurer in the PTO section of Crooked River Elementary School’s Web site.

“They raise money independently of tax dollars, independently of school district dollars, and they have their own oversight,” Bush said.

Crooked River Principal Stan Johns said that the alleged theft had almost depleted the PTO’s account. Officials first noticed the missing money about three weeks ago, he said, and the funds disappeared “pretty much all at once.”

Through fundraising, the PTO pays for all the transportation for school trips and provides each teacher with $200 for “miscellaneous need money,” Johns said. He added that the group has also bought equipment for the school in the past.

“Through in-kind donations and support from the district office, we’ll be able to provide the remaining field trips, and we have enough money to get our spring carnival done, so then it’s kind of wait and see at where we’re at,” Johns said.

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