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Reynolds High teacher under investigation for taking union funds

Cheryl Cooper apparently made a good faith payment of $50,000 after discovery

A Reynolds High School accounting teacher is under investigation for taking money from the Reynolds teachers' union.

Officers from the Reynolds Education Association, the union that represents teachers in the Reynolds School District, have accused Cheryl Cooper, the union's former treasurer, of misappropriating an unidentified amount of money.

Tammy Sykes, past president of the teachers' union, said Cooper made 'a good faith payment' of $50,000 in April, but would not say how much money was missing.

'We want to stress that this was not taxpayer money,' Sykes said. 'This was all money collected from teachers' union dues.'

Cooper, who had worked as the union's treasurer since July 1999, resigned from her position in April, one month after union officers noticed irregularities in the accounts and began an internal investigation.

'The investigation led to the conclusion that there had been a misappropriation of funds,' Sykes said.

The union filed a police report with Gresham Police on Thursday, June 15, outlining the results of their internal investigation.

Wayne Travillion, director of human resources for the Reynolds School District, said Cooper has worked for the district for more than 20 years.

'This does not impact the district in terms of an investigation,' Travillion said. 'If she was charged, then we would take an official position. At that point, we would get our own legal advice on how to proceed.'

Travillion said the timing of the investigation is unfortunate for students and parents at Reynolds High School, since the school's principal was charged with drunken driving this week.

'The fact that the two things of concern came up in the same week is an unfortunate coincidence … but both of these (situations) are very unusual and not typical at all,' he said.

Sykes said the investigation into the misappropriation of funds was disturbing because union members place a high level of trust in their union leaders.

'This is something that all the executive board members are upset about,' Sykes said. 'We're doing a lot right now to assure that this cannot happen again.'

Sykes has been on the union's executive board for nearly 10 years and was its president from July 2004-06. She said she is assisting with the investigation 'since the misappropriation of funds took place during the time I was president.'

Joyce Rosenau is the union's current president. Kathy Schuman is the new treasurer.

Sykes said union officers have redesigned their accounting system so that 'no one person is in charge of the finances.'

'We're really tightening the way we do things. We'll have double accounting for everything. We want to make sure this can never happen again.'

The Outlook was unable to reach Cooper for comment and Gresham Police did not return calls before this paper's press deadline on Friday.