Embezzlement Investigation Surrounds Radnor Elementary School

And it's not the first time there's been trouble

On Sunday, I received an anonymous email from a parent with children in Radnor Elementary School charging that someone embezzled $40,000 from the school’s Parent Teacher Organization in 2009. The message goes on to say that the money was never recovered and that no one was ever charged with a crime, even though the school, PTO, police and Delaware County District Attorney’s office were aware of the allegations. 

According to Detective Sergeant Andy Block of the Radnor Township Police Department, the PTO board went to the police in 2009, requesting an investigation of the missing funds. “We began to investigate and contacted the district attorney’s office,” explains Block. “But no one from the PTO board was willing to come forward officially and make a formal statement, to testify in court, so we suspended the investigation. There were allegations that the police dropped the ball and didn’t do our job, but we can’t pursue it if the victims aren’t going to testify.”

Then two months ago, more than two years after the original investigation, the police and other officials began receiving anonymous emails about the missing money—timing that one source suggests is suspicious given that Radnor Township School Board elections are next week. “There’s a lot more to this that will eventually come out,” says the source.

But in light of the new interest in the case, whether politically motivated or not, the police and DA have agreed to revisit the matter. According to Assistant District Attorney and Public Information Officer Mike Mattson, the Economic Crime Unit has gotten involved, although Mattson will not elaborate. Radnor’s Sergeant Block says that he delivered the accounting records to the ECU office within the last two weeks and that county officials intend to conduct a forensic audit.

The current president of the school’s PTO did not return a call on Thursday seeking comment, and the school’s principal deflected my questions to school district spokesman Michael Petitti. “We’re aware of the inquiries, and we’re in the process of getting some information together,” says Petitti. “But our contention is that the money was returned to the PTO.” (Which would make everything OK how?)

“It’s bad enough that the money was stolen, but even worse that Radnor Elementary School covered up the issue,” emailed the concerned (anonymous) Radnor parent, who contends that if the money was paid back, that it was through an insurance policy, not restitution by the perpetrator. “Perhaps you can help bring justice to the parents and children of Radnor Elementary… It was their—our—money that was stolen and most don’t even realize it.”

If any of this sounds familiar to you, it is likely because a 33-year-old member of a Radnor elementary school’s PTO pleaded guilty to embezzling $54,733 back in 1997. Her lawyer blamed bipolar disorder.