HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hartford police will now investigate why thousands of dollars raised by students are missing from a city school.
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) staff allegedly mismanaged and spent the money on activities and parties for teachers, according to the internal audit commission.
The school’s administrative assistant, who is in charge of the fund, resigned in January after an investigation found a $42,000 deficit. The internal audit commission believes this has been going on for years and that the dollar amount may even be higher.
“That’s a lot of salami, over $40,000,” Commission Chair Bruce Rubenstein told News 8. “It’s particularly heinous and bad for somebody to be ripping off students whose parents are everyday folks. Very few people in Hartford are wealthy.”
A few months ago, an audit by the board of education showed discrepancies with Magnet Trinity High School’s student activity fund, which is supposed to go toward co-curricular and extracurricular student activities like student clubs and organizations.
The board’s findings were given to the internal audit commission, and Rubenstein said what they found was shocking.
“Expenses paid to restaurants, not for students, but for teacher retirement parties,” he said.
Rubenstein said using the fund requires a signature from the principal or vice principal, but he said both claim they don’t remember signing certain checks and that the signatures didn’t look like theirs.
Hartford Public Schools sent News 8 the following statement regarding the investigation:
“Regarding HMTCA, upon learning of a potential issue, the district assumed complete control of the student activity fund. Hundreds of hours of investigation commenced, and those found to be involved were held accountable.”
Senior Elizabeth Duncan Jr. said she raised money for the fund by selling donuts. She is left feeling upset over canceled student events.
“It’s frustrating, especially because it’s my last year, and all the happy things that we thought were going to happen are not happening,” Duncan told News 8.
Her mom, Elizabeth Duncan, was equally frustrated.
“It should never happen,” she said. “There needs to be more control.”
Rubenstein, who is also a lawyer, said Hartford police are investigating after the internal audit commission voted Wednesday unanimously to hand their report to investigators. Rubenstein said if charged, the person responsible would likely face felony charges and, if convicted, could face ten years in prison.
The video below aired in our 5 p.m. newscast on April 28, 2023.