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Ikego PTO under investigation after audit finds accounting problems

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Ikego Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization is being investigated after a financial audit found numerous accounting deficiencies involving thousands of dollars.

Members of the board announced at a public meeting last month that an external audit found several discrepancies in the 2006-2007 books including: $33,495 dispersed without receipts; cash and check withdrawals written to the treasurer, including $21,406 without receipt: $20,971 in unlogged deposits; cash unaccounted for and uncleared checks.

Stars and Stripes received a copy of the findings of the audit, which was requested by the PTO members after a check bounced several times.

Rumors abound about the audit, including those that say the organization is missing in excess of $30,000. Those could not be confirmed because no one involved with the investigation would comment about it on the record.

Repeated calls to the PTO Board President Atsumi Erling were not returned, as well as calls to Buffy Edmonds-Bennett, the group’s former treasurer.

Yokosuka Naval Base officials confirmed that the Command Evaluation Audit Team is conducting an evaluation of the PTO’s finances.

“We are partnering with DODDS to assemble all parties and make sure the process is rigorously enforced,” said Yokosuka Commanding Officer Capt. Daniel Weed.

The base also will be looking to improve financial oversight of the base’s 150 other private organizations, Weed said.

According to the elementary school’s Web site, the purpose of the PTO is to bring the “school, home, and community into closer relation, so that parents and teachers may cooperate in the education of the child.”

Families pay a membership fee of $5 and the PTO conducts fundraisers to host “back-to-school” picnics and special speakers, and to buy school items.

A letter from Edmonds-Bennett addressed to the school’s staff and teachers, and obtained by Stars and Stripes, said the rumors about the PTO having no money were untrue. Included was a bank statement showing about $5,000 in the group’s balance and an itemized list of $46,000 in expenses from 2006-2007 school year.

Edmonds-Bennett has served as treasurer for two years but “this year personalities among the board members did not mesh well,” the letter said, adding that she remained on the board to finish the audit.

The Department of Defense Dependents Schools “has no responsibility of control over the internal fiscal operations of the PTO,” DODDS spokesman Jonathan Beyer said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

“Ikego Elementary School appreciates the important assistance and support of the parents and teachers of the Ikego PTO and seeks to foster a positive working relationship to best support its students,” he said.


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