Owings Mills PTA president asked to resign over records

February 05, 2003|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

The PTA Council of Baltimore County asked yesterday for the resignation of Renae Moore, president of the Owings Mills Elementary School's PTA, because she can't account for more than $4,000 raised from book fairs and bake and candy sales last year, PTA Council officials said.

After spending months auditing the incomplete records of the Owings Mills PTA, council officials said they can't find proof that several checks were used to pay for books, library cards and other goods for the school. Companies told PTA school officials that they sent the products to the school but were not paid.

"There's no evidence to say anything was done illegally -- very sloppily, but not illegally," said Michael Franklin, president of the PTA Council, which oversees PTA groups at schools throughout the county.

In a brief telephone interview, Moore said she had "submitted everything" PTA Council officials had asked for. Moore said she inherited the Owings Mills PTA's problems and had been trying to fix them.

"I haven't done nothing, so I won't step down," she said.

The PTA Council could disband the PTA group if Moore won't resign but expects to talk with Moore before such a drastic step. It has not notified the police because there is no evidence of illegal behavior, Franklin said.

When Moore took over the Owings Mills PTA two years ago, the PTA Council audited its books after hearing concerns from Owings Mills PTA members that it was deeply in debt, said Rodger Janssen, the PTA Council's vice president for leadership.

The Owings Mills PTA was found to be in debt, and last year's fund-raisers were held to help pay down the debt, he said.

The PTA Council began looking into the latest concerns about missing money at Owings Mills late last summer, but officials said its audit was thwarted by shoddy recordkeeping.

"Their bookkeeping was very poor -- in fact, almost nonexistent. I wasn't provided with any ledgers, checkbook stubs and didn't even have any canceled checks initially," said John Ryan, a former PTA Council treasurer who conducted the audit.

Ryan said the Owings Mills PTA hasn't been able to provide him with at least three canceled checks that bank statements indicate were cashed.

A $1,300 check was recorded in the Owings Mills PTA's ledgers for purchasing books for a book fair, and a $600 check was purportedly used for buying library cards, Ryan said. No records exist to explain how a check for $2,369.74 was used.

Ryan said a few other checks may be unaccounted for.

Cynthia Tawiah, a parent at Owings Mills who belongs to the PTA, said a group of fellow PTA members is asking Moore to step down and reimburse the group if she can't account for the funds.

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