Thursday, August 04, 2011

$275,000 Minnesota School Embezzlement
Reveals Taxpayer Exposure to Fraud Risks

This makes taxpayers wince: a school district business manager has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling $275,000 over 11 years from her tiny western Minnesota school district, Chokio-Alberta. Liane Chaassen faces 20 years in prison:


Apparently, she diverted tiny amounts of money frequently to her own bank account, and no one was the wiser over 11 years in that school district.

Sure makes you wonder, with all the countless millions of dollars that are sitting in little-known funds and accounts in school districts all across the nation, and certainly all across Nebraska, whether embezzlement is going on a lot more than we know.

As the embezzlement in the small Minnesota district persisted for 11 years without being caught by other employees or outside audits, this episode points up the dangers of the relative lack of business experience among school-district managers, most of whom were formerly classroom teachers and coaches, not MBA's or accountants.

I've said it before and will say it again: we need school district leadership that can be financially accountable to taxpayers. The best idea is to have school leaders from OUTSIDE of K-12 education -- the business world, the military, other non-school training sources -- if we expect to get the best bang for our bucks.

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