Recently audited Ikego PTO to dissolve in June
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Parent-Teacher Organization for Ikego Elementary School will be shut down when the school year ends June 12, base officials said this month.
Internal battles and questionable accounting prompted the decision to “dissolve” the organization when school closes for the summer, said Yokosuka commanding officer Capt. Daniel Weed.
“Due to the organization’s incomplete records and severe internal disorganization,” Weed said, “I feel it is in the best interest of all parties to dissolve the Ikego PTO at the end of the school year.”
The move comes after the base’s Command Evaluation Office audit found $33,495 in disbursements without receipts and “significant problems” with the organization’s internal financial controls for the period of September 2006 through August 2007, according to base officials.
Several board members, including Board President Atsumi Earling, asked for an external audit several months ago after requests for financial information from the treasurer divided the board into factions, Earling said.
Meetings became “dysfunctional,” she said. The issue led to the board’s replacement of the former treasurer, Buffy Edmonds-Bennett, who declined to comment for this story.
Yokosuka’s evaluation office has since reported that — although there is no “authoritative information” such as receipts or invoices to pinpoint the spending — “to their best judgment” almost all of the money was used for PTO business.
“We were able to attribute and/or account for all but approximately $2,800 of the allegedly missing funds,” said Weed in a written statement. “As it is impossible to reconstruct the whereabouts of the $2,800 given the insufficient records, this matter is considered resolved.”
But current board members said they were “stunned” at the decision to dissolve the PTO. They had brought the issue to the base’s attention and the mismanagement happened under a previous board, they said.
“The issue never should have been put on the current board members’ shoulders alone,” Earling said. “The [new] organization hasn’t had any internal issues since January 2008 when it started operating with the current board members who are committed to its improvement.”
The students of Ikego will suffer if the school doesn’t have a working PTO to raise funds for events and school-related expenses, she said.
Principal Walt Wilhoit said children, so far, haven’t noticed the discord, but parents have asked about “what sounded like a lot of money flown to the wind,” he said.
“There was a lack of understanding about the situation,” Wilhoit said. “We spent a lot of money, but it was for good causes.”
Ikego is not the only private organization under scrutiny, Weed said Tuesday.
Ikego’s issues started a basewide investigation into the financial practices of all of the base’s 153 private organizations, he said.
“We’re going to review the accounting practices of all of the organizations within the next six months,” Weed said. “We’ll get a good baseline.”
Once dissolved, private organizations can re-form if they follow base guidelines, said staff judge advocate general Lt. Jonathan Flynn.
This includes writing proper bylaws, and having procedures for elections, financial management, accountability and dissolution, Flynn said. Organizations also must submit a schedule of events and a facilities request, and designate points of contact, he said.