September 22, 2020

Important Note to our Members

Dear Firgrove Families,

As some of you may have recently heard, your PTA has been dealing with a very sensitive issue in the past two weeks.  Our by-laws and recommended procedures from our parent organization, Washington State PTA, encouraged us to have our process finished and our results ready so that we would be able to give a full report to our membership at our meeting on February 8th.  Unfortunately, the press was able to access the public records of the police report, and against our wishes, went public with this story before our meeting.  PTA law requires us to give written 10 day notice before any meeting, so we were unable to hurry the process any further to “beat” the story.  We first and foremost want to express our apologies that you weren’t able to hear the story from your PTA first.

Due to the on-going media attention, we would like to share with you the process with which the issue was discovered and dealt with.  We still encourage you to attend the General Membership Meeting on February 8th at 7pm.  We are hoping to have further details to share on the status of the investigation and answer your questions at that time.

Here is the basic synopsis of the last two weeks.  On January 17th, our financial review committee met to do our bi-annual review.  This is a basic requirement of all PTA units, and our unit does this regularly every 6 months.  The review committee found some discrepancies in our books, and after reporting them to the board of directors, our board voted to contact the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and file a report.

During the course of the investigation our treasurer gave our president her verbal resignation.  The board voted to accept her resignation.  We then contacted our Puyallup PTA Council, Washington State PTA, Firgrove Administration and our insurance company.  We are working very closely with each of these organizations and are following the process set forth by our by-laws whenever discrepancies involving money is found within a PTA.

The discrepancies that were found consisted of monies of roughly $18,000.  During the course of the investigation, the Pierce County Sherriff’s Department contacted us with a civil agreement proposed by our former treasurer.  She does not admit guilt, but stated she would like to do the right thing.  Our former treasurer did repay $9,408.55 of the missing money.  That specific amount was double counted deposits.  There are no records of those deposits with our bank.  Per PTA policy, our first and foremost duty is to recover as much money as possible so we did accept her payment.  We are still working with our insurance company and doing whatever we can to recover the rest.

Again, please understand that we were really hoping to come to you; our members, our friends, our Firgrove family, before any of this information was out in the public.  As a non-profit organization, however, we do have to follow the by-laws set up for us.  We had to keep this information private during the course of the investigation so as not to hinder or delay the police or insurance investigation and to protect the privacy of all involved.  This has been a very difficult and emotional situation for our board, and we appreciate the kind words and support that we have gotten from many of you in the last few days since this has been out.

The most important thing to remember at this point is that our PTA will continue to be a strong and viable part of our Firgrove community.  We will continue to support the staff, parents and more than anything the kids in every way we can.  We will continue to have successful family events like our record-breaking McTeacher night from last Thursday.  We will not let this one event change anything, but it will make us stronger and hopefully bring our community even closer together.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Jill Ralston, Amy Conner, Jenni Ostenson, Joy Benning, and Tracie Jarratt

Firgrove Elementary PTA Board of Directors

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