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The Belgrade News

Audit: Manhattan football coach withheld more than $20K in money

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Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 6:00 am

The audit of Manhattan School District is in and it reveals that high school football coach Dale McQueary withheld more than $20,000 in fundraising money in two years.

According to the audit compiled by the Bozeman accounting firm Rudd and Company, McQueary withheld $10,264 in cash from the extracurricular school account last year. McQueary spent the money on his football players.

Scott Holton, a certified public accountant with the firm, presented the report to the Manhattan School Board Tuesday night.

Rudd and Company, along with the Montana School Board Association discovered that McQueary withheld $12,060 in cash from district accounts this year.

In October, the MTSBA opened an investigation into McQueary’s alleged misconduct. The association report stated that McQueary withheld $8,400 in fundraising monies over the past three years. Rudd and Company’s report pushed that figure to more than double the initial estimates.

 To raise the money, football players sold $20 discount cards around the community.  McQueary would deposit the checks into a district fund and withhold the cash to spend on new equipment for his players and assistant coaches’ wages, the investigation states. Those purchases were made without authorization from the district.

This year, football players sold 932 cards for a total of $18,640. Of that, McQueary deposited $6,595 worth of checks and $10 cash into the district account. He paid David Polanchek of Granite Fundraising $7,456 in cash.

“The remaining $4,579 in cash was spent on meals without going through the established district protocols or procedures, or held in Mr. McQueary’s classroom or in his briefcase,” the investigation states.  

McQueary also had students sign an inaccurate spreadsheet that “did not accurately reflect the number of discount cards that each student sold,” the investigation states.  

The MTSBA investigation states that in 2010 Manhattan High School Principal Bob Moore asked the Montana High School Association to present to the Manhattan coaching staff on gender and equity issues.

According to the MTSBA investigation, McQueary “acknowledged attending both the MHSA presentation and the coaches meetings.”

Along with detailing McQueary’s financial misappropriations, Rudd and Company recommended that the Manhattan School District tighten up its policies for extracurricular money.

The accounting firm urged the district to create an “internal control of cash receipts and expenditures of the money and a general account that can be reconciled with the bank account for the extracurricular fund,” the audit report states.

Holton’s visit to the school came weeks after the Montana High School Association fined Manhattan High School $200 for violating Title IX rules. The MHSA also placed the high school on probation for a year, through the fall 2014 season.  

At its executive board meeting, the MHSA reviewed a corrective action plan authored by Moore.

The plan details the district’s ideas for keeping track of fundraising dollars. It also provided solutions for giving girls sports teams extra meals during the 2014 season to make up for the extra meals the football team received in the 2013 season.  

At the meeting Tuesday night, MHSA Executive Director Mark Beckman said he was pleased with the district’s corrective action plan.

“It was very well done and the board did not edit or revise the plan at all,” Beckman said.  

Beckman handed each trustee an article called “Title IX Still Applies: Gender Equity in Athletics During Difficult Economic Times.”

The article reiterates that schools cannot discriminate on the basis of sex when providing athletic opportunities, scholarships, benefits and services.

Manhattan Superintendent Jim Notaro also asked the school board Tuesday night to allow the $200 MHSA fine to be taken from the football activities fund.

Notaro told the board that several community members approached him about getting a refund for the $20 cards they purchased. Notaro asked for the board’s approval for drawing up paperwork to document each refund given out. The board agreed.

The board did not talk about McQueary’s future as a coach at the Tuesday night meeting.  

The packed room of parents and teachers were mostly silent throughout the meeting. A few parents piped up, wondering if refunds should be given on the $20 cards if the discounts had already been used. Notaro said either way, the district should refund the money if community members fill out the proper paperwork.

Notaro did not want to comment more about the audit findings, as he and the district are being sued by McQueary.

McQueary filed a lawsuit last month against Notaro and the district for emotional distress, slander, breach of contract, negligence and a host of other charges stemming from MTSBA investigation and McQueary’s suspension from both his teaching and coaching positions.  

The lawsuit says the district did not provide McQueary with the policies and procedures for fundraising. It also states that McQueary was not given ample time to respond to the investigation findings before they were turned over to media outlets.

© 2015 The Belgrade News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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