A reported theft of over $10,000 at Patterson Mill Middle/High School in Bel Air prompted an ongoing criminal investigation by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, according to spokeswoman Monica Worrell.
According to a police report, Harford County Public Schools security chief Bob Benedetto told police on Oct. 20 that a combination of cash and personal checks collected by the school could not be accounted for, and that a felony theft occurred between Dec. 9, 2009 and Sept. 16. Benedetto reported that the missing money was from the cash box money taken at various sports games on various dates, and from a deposit for other school activities.
The police report also indicates that Benedetto contacted the sheriff’s office after first conducting an internal investigation involving multiple persons at the school. He told police that the schools’ vault, where cash boxes are located, had been re-keyed, with the only new key issued to Patterson Mill Principal Wayne Thibeault.
Harford County Public Schools spokesperson Teri Kranefeld told The Dagger that the school system’s investigation is continuing in concert with law enforcement.
Otto Smidlap says
This situation, sadly, is nothing new. I know of two other Harford County high schools where something similar took place and it cost two administrators (one principal and one vice-principal)their jobs. In one case, it dates back to the early sixties, so I suppose one could assume that it doesn’t happen frequently.
David A. Porter says
Bob…. you were clueless when I met you and you are still clueless. Your internal investigation was flawed because of the unprofessional man overseeing it. You lost valuable time, and the perps got away. Congratulations. Glad you aren’t the sheriff.
I was wondering how long it would take for this to hit the dagger…
It amazes me that it took so long for anyone to notice there was an issue. Based on what I’ve heard, I’ll be very surprised if anyone is ever charged in this case (and even if someone is I think there are enough issues with how things were handled that it won’t hold up in court unless they have rock solid bank records supporting the charges.)
Lew Jr. says
While this is very sad, it is not surprising. This is just another chapter in the book of issues at PM that stem from the abysmal leadership on display there since day 1. Doubtful HCPS will do the right thing since their leadership is no better.
Parents of Patterson Mill should be OUTRAGED at the lack of responsibility from leadership to allow a situation like this occur – where is the accountability and monitoring of the financial records on a regular basis by administration at the school and from HCPS? Those funds are the students -stealing from students is so low. Time to clean house there!
I’m confused as to why 10,000 dollars is left to molder in a box in a safe… and not missed for almost a year. Do they have so much money that it isn’t needed? There is such a thing as an interest bearing account that the school system could take advantage of… I believe they’re offered by “banks” which also keep somewhat better track of your money.
What is the school system doing to reassure the community and other school communities that safeguards are in place so this doesn’t happen? This was an ongoing problem, this wasn’t something that happened once or overnight. This is a lack of oversight. HCPS is a top down organization – not a bottom up. Seems to me like the principal is responsible for what happens in that school or at least have an idea of what is going on. He wasn’t there much when the school first opened and he was uninvolved with the facility problems that were going on. I think of all the money I have personally paid to go to sporting events just to see my student play sports and how I have thought it was a real financial hardship for some people, and to find out that much of that money is unaccounted for is just disgusting.
Although my kids don’t go to Patterson Mill anymore, lots of kids in my neighborhood do. So I get hit up to buy things to support various groups at that school. I will now think twice about doing that if this is how they handle the money.
I agree with JUSTAMOM and Kate. I would think twice about supporting PMHS events. Parents at this school should be outraged and demanding answers. I would like to know why the police were not involved earlier than this? Mr. Benedetto should provide answers to all sine the community supports this school as well as the parents. It seems PM administration tries to hide things. Since this “golden” school has opened they have had issues. I also remember the grading policy that adminsitration had or still has implemented and has tried to back track as well as the princpal calling parents to get their students to take AP tests so “he and PM” look good in numbers. The new Superintendent needs to take a closer look at this school.
sorry for the spelling error ” since” and “principal”
The administrators, who make approx 100,000 + a year, should have to cough up the stolen money themselves since they were so reckless with that much money. Maybe they will be more careful next time.