Money missing from Westchester Middle School volunteer parent group

March 26, 2013 4:15:56 PM PDT
Thousands of dollars raised to help public school programs in west suburban Westchester are missing.

Police are now trying to track down the missing money.

Last fall, the principal at Westchester Middle School spoke up and brought a problem to the district's superintendent.

"Disbelief. We are all here to help the kids. We have good people here," said Westchester School District Superintendent Michael Dziallo. "It's just disappointing when something goes awry like this.

The problem: $12,000 was allegedly stolen from the middle school's volunteer parent organization.

"It's not a good thing," said Dziallo. "The students raised the money. It's supposed to go for student activities for them, and no one likes it when the money is not there."

The matter is now the subject of an investigation by Westchester police.

A school board member recently sent a memo to parents explaining money had been taken from both parent organizations in the district, saying, "In each case of theft, thousands of dollars have been taken out of the hands of our children."

Tricia Zuro has two sons in the district. She explains parents pay into the organizations and help fundraising.

"Parents do that for their kids. They work hard," said Zuro. "And to know that someone else may have taken that money is not okay."

Zuro is eager to get more information about the missing money. But, ultimately, she hopes the money will be repaid and go toward enriching the students' academic lives.

"I am 100 percent willing to support these groups in the schools," said Zuro. "But we need to know that they are going to the right places and the right people."

There will be a full school board meeting next Tuesday. On the agenda: The board wants to recognize only one parent organization instead of two.

And it's important to note the current parent volunteers are new. Actually, the superintendent is new, and it was the new leadership that exposed the issue and brought it to police.