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State: Former Avon Schools employee misplaced nearly $90,000

AVON, Ind. (WISH) -- State investigators say a former Avon Community Schools Corp. employee owes the school district more than $140,000.

The report released by the State Board of Accounts on Thursday said Jennifer Mazur, former extracurricular treasurer of White Oak Elementary School, was responsible for financial discrepancies from 2011 to 2017 that total more than $89,000. The additional money owed to Avon Schools, according to the Board of Accounts, is for Indiana's cost of $52,800 to investigate the case.

Mazur's job responsibilities included depositing all extracurricular receipts into the elementary school's extracurricular bank account and all corporation fees collected at the school into the corporation's bank account. Extracurricular funds include book fair sales, field trip fees, yearbook costs and developmental preschool fees.

According to the report, "Through an internal audit of the Extra-Curricular accounts, the School Corporation discovered a discrepancy at White Oak Elementary and reported the discrepancy to the Avon Police Department and the Indiana State Board of Accounts."

The school district told 24-Hour News 8 that audit took place in February 2017.

"I'm very pleased we discovered this ourselves," said Avon Superintendent Margaret Hoernemann. "We elected to do an audit that the state doesn't require us to do and immediately found the discrepancy and turned it over to the proper authorities and discovered the full scope of this person's theft."

While the state report never refers to Mazur's acts as criminal, Hoernemann said that's exactly what this is.

"A dishonest person who was stealing from the public," she said. "Many large entities have people unfortunately who work for them who are dishonest. In this case our school system and the taxpayers were a victim, but we'll be seeking full restitution."

In the report, the Board of Accounts also said the Avon district's "internal controls over cash receipts were insufficient."

The report added that Mazur collected payments for the school corporation with "little oversight."

The Board of Accounts said internal controls are necessary to catch discrepancies in a timely manner.

Some residents agreed, saying more oversight was needed at Avon Schools.

"That's a lot of money to lose, and they've had to spend a lot of time and effort to figure out where it went," said Carl Blackard, an Avon resident. "As long as they're transparent going forward, I think that's all we can ask of them at this point."

The Avon school district responded to those statements in early January with a list of changes made within the district since Mazur's alleged dealings with money. Those include additional training for staff and internal audits, like the one performed in February 2017.

"I' have many school districts that are calling me saying,'Boy, we're glad you did that audit. We're going to do one ourselves,'" Hoernemann said.

The school district has an insurance policy, including $50,000 a year, which protects it from employee theft, according to the Board of Accounts report.

It's unclear if Mazur will face any criminal charges at this time. The Hendricks County Prosecutor's Office released this statement:

We are reviewing the report from the SBOA. There is no timeline for a decision regarding any possible criminal charges, it will likely be several weeks.

Avon Police Department has also been involved in the investigation. Avon Chief of Police Sean Stoops told 24-Hour News 8 that he has detectives sorting through the details of the case and preparing to make a presentation to the Hendricks County prosecutor next week.

In addition to the superintendent's comments, the school district released this statement:

In 2017, the Avon Community School Corporation implemented internal audit procedures of extra-curricular accounts, which are no longer audited by the State. Through this voluntary internal audit, the School Corporation discovered a discrepancy at White Oak Elementary. We immediately reported the discrepancy to the Avon Police Department and to the Indiana State Board of Accounts. The school district conducted an internal investigation, placed the employee involved on leave, and terminated employment on April 26, 2017. The Indiana State Board of Accounts has recently completed its investigation and turned the report over to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and to the local prosecuting attorney.

"As we have done from the beginning of this investigation, we are closely cooperating with law enforcement and will be requesting full restitution. Because this is now a law enforcement matter, we are not able to make any further comments."

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