Winnipeg website offers parents more transparent way of delivering money to schools
Published Sunday, April 19, 2015 5:41PM CST Last Updated Sunday, April 19, 2015 6:25PM CST
At the beginning of the school year, Sheri Irwin paid for her two kids to participate in the supervised lunch program at Joseph Teres School.
It was months later when she was notified her payment had not been received.
"I did my own investigation and I went to my online banking and found that the cheque did in fact go through," said Irwin. “So where did that money go? I'm not sure."
Another concerned parent, who didn't want to be identified, told CTV News the lunch program treasurer was not bringing financial records to committee meetings. Once the treasurer did, other parents noticed things didn't add up.
On Friday, Winnipeg police said an investigation found the 39-year-old treasurer of the program had been taking out cash from the account for her personal use between December 2013 and October 2014. The stolen sum is estimated to be more than $24,000. She is now facing theft and fraud charges.
Winnipeg businessman Chris Johnson said he wasn’t surprised when he heard this was happening at a Winnipeg school.
"(Money) flows back to the school with a little human, and then it's going through a series of envelopes, excel sheets, teachers desk drawers in some cases," he said.
Johnson thinks his web company, Permission Click Inc., could help prevent fraud in schools. The online format gives parents the option to make payments to school programs directly, and creates a full digital audit of every transaction made for the school’s records.
"It decreases the chance of a, mistakes being made or b, opening up the exposure that lets people get away with things like this," he said.
An option parents with children at Joseph Teres would be interested to try.
"You would know right away, and you would know who's taking care of it and you would see right there. It would be easier for red flags to come up," said parent Jenn Boomer.
Until then, the school’s lunch program is under review.
The superintendent of the River East Transcona School Division said the parents did the right thing by taking their concerns to police.
The accused has been released from police custody with a promise to appear in court in June.