Update (12:12 p.m. on Nov. 21)
Officials with the office of the Indiana Attorney General has filed a complaint to recover public funds against Aletta Nowlin, according to court documents filed earlier this month.
CARMEL, Ind. — Before the first bell on a recent Wednesday morning, FOX59/CBS4 visited Clay Middle School. It’s a well-kept school on a quiet street in Carmel lined with homes.
We stood on the sidewalk adjacent to the driveway for the student drop-off hoping to speak with parents before they drove away.
We had some information for them that we suspected had not been shared with them: $200,000+ in extra-curricular funding is missing from the school.
We asked the parents walking by if they had been told anything about the missing money. Their responses included:
- “Never (told).”
- “(Shakes head).”
- “Never heard anything about this.”
- “I’ll definitely look into this.”
Every parent we spoke with left with a copy of a State Board of Accounts, or SBOA, special investigation report that can be found below.
The report begins with a name, Aletta Nowlin. Hers is the only name that is mentioned, and it was mentioned 16 times.
In addition to being a secretary/administrative assistant at the school, she also held the role of Extracurricular Treasurer from February 2016 until March 2021.
That job gave Nowlin access to all accounts, records and collections related to extracurricular activities at Clay Middle School. It also provided Nowlin with a “big box store credit card.”
The report, dated June 17, 2022, finds Nowlin responsible for unauthorized use of the school credit card beginning in her first year as Extracurricular Treasurer. Missing money surfaced the following year. The misappropriation accelerated each year.
Two of the sources of extracurricular money at the school are admission to athletic events and sales at concession stands. The SBOA report notes that records for the period when Nowlin was Extracurricular Treasurer are incomplete. Some receipts are missing and other were reportedly not generated when funds were turned in.
Because of the incomplete records, the SBOA investigation had to estimate sales for some athletic contests when there was no record of a deposit. The same with concessions proceeds.
In a three-year span from 2017-2018 to 2019-2020, $73,558.50 is unaccounted for.
There were also cash collections for some extracurricular activities. School records examined by the SBOA indicate over a four-year period (2017-2018 through 2020-2021) $77,516.20 was not deposited in the school account.
A review of the school’s credit card statements by SBOA and school officials identified $53,927.30 in unauthorized purchases during a six-year period (2015-2016 through 2020-2021). Those purchases include $22,420.81 for gift cards including Visa/Mastercard. Additional purchases include groceries, household items, jewelry and make-up.
The report says Nowlin has been asked to repay all of this plus late fees and interest on the credit card account along with the cost of the SBOA investigation.
The total stands at $223,946.40.
FOX59/CBS4 searched the Carmel-Clay Schools (CCS) and Clay Middle School websites and could not find any mention of this financial loss. We sought conversations with the school principal and PTO president. Neither responded to us.
Twice was asked for an interview with CCS Superintendent Dr. Michael Beresford. Instead, Beresford supplied a brief statement. The following is that statement in its entirety:
“After administration noticed financial irregularities at Clay Middle School, district administration reported concerns to the State Board of Accounts. The State Board of Accounts performed an audit and found funds misappropriated, funds unaccounted for, and unauthorized credit card purchases by the Clay Middle School treasurer. The employee was terminated, and the case was turned over to authorities. CCS has increased training and implementation of internal controls across the district, at both the building and organizational levels. The district extends its gratitude to the State Board of Accounts for its assistance and diligence in this matter.”CCS Superintendent Dr. Michael Beresford
Offices for the Indiana Attorney General and the Hamilton County Prosecutor have been forwarded the SBOA investigation report. Both are reviewing the case for possible prosecution.