Top Manhattan school officials will have to address the Montana High School Association executive board later this month to present a “corrective plan,” to address Title IX fundraising improprieties stemming from head football coach Dale McQueary’s mishandling of program money.   

At the Manhattan School Board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Jim Notaro said he received a letter earlier in the day from MHSA. The letter demands the district create a plan to correct the fundraising mismanagement by McQueary.

The letter to Notaro states that the MHSA determined Manhattan “violated the following MSHA by-laws and MHSA rules and regulations,” because of several infractions.

The organization used examples like McQueary providing meals for the football team outside the district policy and “various football team members receiving extra discount cards which may have been sold by the players for cash or given as gifts.”

The investigation, conducted by the Montana School Board Association, began when Notaro received a tip about McQueary’s mishandling of funds his team raised by selling discount cards. The MTSBA investigation revealed that McQueary withheld cash from the fundraising to spend without authorization.

Manhattan will have to appear at the MHSA Executive Board Meeting on November 25 to present its corrective plan.

The MHSA will determine penalties for the school after the Nov. 25 meeting. There are five possible penalties: a private reprimand which comes with a $50 fine; a public reprimand that comes with a $100 fine; probation that could range from a $200 or forfeit of games while on strong probation; suspension from all interscholastic competition; forfeiture of any and all past or future contests.

As for what the school will pitch to correct the fundraising improprieties, Notaro doesn’t know.

“How I’m going to write this, I have no idea,” Notaro said. “… if we don’t present a corrective plan that suits them, they could come down on us even harder. This is the first time I’ve had to do this.”

Over three years, McQueary withheld $8,400 in fundraising money. According to the report from the MTSBA, McQueary had students participate in the scheme.

McQueary “manipulated financial information to match the deposit being made by having student athletes sign a spreadsheet that was inaccurate in terms of the number of discount cards each student sold and the amount of money raised by each student,” the report states.

According to Title IX requirements, all fundraising monies are to be spent equitably, but not necessarily equally, among sports. For example, football gear costs more than volleyball jerseys. More money will be spent to properly outfit a football team, because of equipment costs.

But when the football team receives something new, money must also be spent on a girls’ sports team. The investigation found McQueary used the money he was siphoning to purchase equipment without district approval including shoulder pads, equipment and uniforms.

Title IX also requires equitable spending on coaches for male and female sports.

The MTSBA also found McQueary purchased meals for football players contrary to district policy with monies outside school accounts.

The receipts in the accounts questioned have yet to be substantiated and will be fleshed out later, according to the district auditor

McQueary was suspended from his post as an eighth grade math teacher and head coach of the Tigers Sept. 19. He has since been placed back in the classroom. The school decided not to reinstate him for the remainder of the 2013 football season.

A group of Manhattan parents countered the suspension by suing the school to get McQueary reinstated for a critical playoff berth game. A Gallatin County District Court Judge sided with the parents. McQueary was reinstated as head football coach in time for the Tigers game against Boulder on Oct. 29.

The Tigers lost that game, snapping a streak of three straight postseason appearances. McQueary has already hired a lawyer to sue the school. Wayne Harper, McQueary’s attorney, said his client was targeted by the district because of a “vendetta over a coaching issue.”