METCOThis page is only about the unusual accounting activity by the METCO director and not about the program overall.
For now, our most recent information on the METCO matter is on our homepage.
(8-7-15): METCO MATTER - UPDATE
Yesterday, the School Committee FINALLY issued a statement about the METCO matter. In it, they reference "… the METCO revolving account matter." The public has waited nearly two years to understand about the METCO off-ledger, illegal bank account matter.
So just to refresh the Committee's memory:
The public wants to know about then Superintendent Dr. Gary Burton's letter, dated August 26, 2009 (Former Superintendent's Letter HERE). In it, he wrote to the manager of The Village Bank, expressing his gratitude for her "… attention to this matter." What matter? Why is the letter notarized?
Per the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the town treasurer "Receives, takes charge of and accounts for ALL monies belonging to the town; receives and identifies monies due the town and reports the same to the accountant (MGL Ch. 41, Section 35)."
Why were public funds diverted to this "off the books" bank account, that was not under the custody of the Town's treasurer but instead under the unsupervised and unauthorized discretion of only a select few who knew of its existence? In fact, a legal METCO revolving account already existed at the time, with the Town's treasurer, to receive ALL such funds.
According to the Powers Report, "The METCO Director used the discretionary funds to directly pay down her personal credit card account 25 times for a total of $20,440." (That was ONLY over the 5 year period the auditors reviewed. The METCO director had actually been working here for 13 years at the time of review.)
The Town's auditor knew nothing about this off-ledger bank account (see page 4 of his Management Report HERE). And Town Counsel later opined that any amounts so received by an officer or department of a town shall be deposited with the treasurer of the town (Town Counsel's opinion HERE). It's the law!
Message from Public to the School Committee (and the now identified "investigative body that has specific, relevant expertise in this area with subpoena powers") - we're STILL waiting for a REAL update!
7/29/2015 ~ WVN #605: OML sheds light on METCO case
"The July 21 decision from the Office of the Attorney General discloses little information about the investigation of METCO coordinator Mabel Reid-Wallace, but it does make clear that criminal prosecution for embezzlement has been discussed."
7/29/2015 WickedLocal ~ AG: Two Wayland boards violated state Open Meeting Law
"“Without any supporting documentation we are left with the undisputed fact that METCO funds were used to directly pay off a personal credit card,” Powers wrote."
Two important links:
• Letter from MWDN Attorney to Wayland Public Schools.
• WVN Newsletter on the matter.
Wayland has participated in the METCO prgoram for over 40 years. For 13 of those years, its current director has been at the helm here in Wayland. When Powers & Sullivan conducted its audit of the off-ledger accounts in Wayland, they found that some of the accounts had poor records or missing records to substantiate their spending. However, the METCO account, was the most disturbing. In the five years of records that they examined, they found that the director had charged $20,000 to pay down her personal credit cards. Her explanation was that she was simply reimbursing herself for METCO-related expesnses for which she'd paid out of her own pocket. When asked for the backing documents to these transactions, the director said she'd thrown them away. When asked to go back to the credit card company and get them, she came back saying they were unable to produce them
-A deadline of 9/30/13 was given to obtain the statements.
-The deadline was extended to 10/31/13
-The deadline was again extended to 12/31/13
The School Committee has met over 25 times since learning that a school employee used over $20,000 in public funds to pay off her personal cards, yet apparently --- now that the final deadline has passed --- the public is owed no explanation concerning the funds OR the School Committee’s inaction concerning the issue?
It's important to note that Powers & Sullivan only examined 5 out of the 13 years this director has been employed in this position. It is also worth noting that the auditing firm was directed as to which records to look at. So, it is not at all clear that they found all of the unusual accounting that may have occurred over the last 13 years.
Still Awaiting Missing Records from Wayland
A recent letter, addressed to Barbara Fletcher, Chairperson, Wayland School Committee, from James E. Powers, CPA and Partner of Powers & Sullivan, LLC, revealed:
“There is a possibility that a direct personal benefit could have occurred.”
“Without any supporting documentation we are left with the undisputed fact that METCO funds were used to directly pay off a personal credit card.”
“The METCO Director used the discretionary funds to directly pay down her personal credit card account 25 times for a total of $20,440.”*
“As with all of these discretionary accounts, there was no oversight by School management which increased the possibility of misappropriation of funds.”
“Any reasonable person would question the appropriateness of these payments and realize that there is a serious breach of internal control. The $20,000 amount is considered significant.”
“As stated in our original report that unlike the school discretionary accounts, METCO had $18,000 of checks made out to cash and ATM withdrawals. We consider checks made out to cash or ATM withdrawals to be a material weakness in internal control which increases the possibility of misappropriation of funds.”
*Based on the Powers & Sullivan review of 5 out of the 13 years of the Wayland METCO Director's employment.
Stay tuned… updates to follow…
The Wayland Schools Audit draft has just been released and it ain't pretty.Here are a few excerpts:
"There were 4 charges to the debit card to the Cheesecake Factory for gift certificates before the Christmas break and end of the school year that total $1,165."
"The review of this account identified many checks made out to cash, ATM withdrawals of cash and many questionable transactions without any supporting documents."
"There were 25 payments totaling $20,440 from July 2006 through January 2010 made directly to pay down the Director’s personal credit cards...... She stated that she threw out all of her old credit card statements and had requested copies of the statements after our discussion. As of the date of this report we have not been provided the statements." The full report can be found here.
People are asking...
What's up with the METCO missing credit card statements?Here's all we know at this point:
• A deadline of 9/30/13 was given to obtain the statements.
• The deadline was extended to 10/31/13
• The deadline was again extended to 12/31/13
• The School Committee has met over TWENTY TIMES since learning that a school employee used over $20,000 in public funds to pay off her personal cards. They may consider this due diligence, but many say they're dragging their feet. Some of their more recent meetings have been in Executive Session, and an agenda item to talk about it at a recent public meeting was passed over without explanation.
These accounts were discovered 2 years ago in December of 2011 and the employee in question is still employed by Wayland.STAY TUNED!