Tigard High cheerleading funds missing

Poor bookkeeping, not theft, is blamed for the financial mix-up

Officials with the Tigard-Tualatin School District say poor bookkeeping is likely the cause of thousands of dollars missing from the Tigard High School cheerleading program.

An independent audit of Tigard High School's accounts found as much as $33,000 missing from the program over the last two years.

'At this point, we don't think there was any theft,' said district spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon. 'It was just a matter of poor record keeping.'

The former head coach of the high school's cheerleading program - who resigned due to schedule restraints before the bookkeeping issue was discovered - was the primary bookkeeper for the program, Stark Haydon said.

'Record keeping on the part of the coach was poor, and we are trying to piece together whether students had paid to cover the expenses,' Stark Haydon said. 'We have met with the cheer team and are trying to reconcile the books.'

Stark Haydon said parents were told about the misplaced funds a few weeks ago and were asked to bring in receipts and old checks to show that they had paid for their students to participate in the program.

As of Wednesday, Stark Haydon said, the amount still unaccounted for had dropped to about $13,000.

Some of the parents admitted to having outstanding balances with the program, Stark Haydon said, making it unclear how much - if anything - is still missing from the program.

'There are some parents who have come in and said they still owed some money, too,' Stark Haydon said. 'We are still trying to reconcile the books.'

Stark Haydon said the program is not in jeopardy and added that a new coach has already started meeting with the students.

In the end, Stark Haydon said, the blame rests with the district.

'The coach should have kept better records, so that the amount each student paid would be on some sort of a ledger, but we shouldn't have let the account go into a negative balance.'

Much of the money deposited to the team's account was done in bulk, without crediting which students had paid, or what amount, Stark Haydon said.

In addition, the missing funds stretch back to last year, making the situation even more complicated.

'All we are trying to do is find out if any of the cheerleaders received benefits, such as participated in a cheer camp or got a uniform, that the amount is paid for,' Stark Haydon said.

'We are not asking to cover anything other than what they received in terms of either uniforms and equipment or participation.'