Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released the following statement in response to the sentencing of former Waynesville School District employee Deanna House, who served as the Director of Food Services for the district.
"When public officials abuse their positions to benefit themselves, they must be held accountable, and the actions of this former employee represent a serious abuse of public trust and resources. Parents are often shocked to learn just how much cash is handled by school district employees and it's critical to have procedures in place to ensure funds are used as intended. Protecting student funds starts with eliminating opportunities for misuse, and Waynesville School District officials have since worked with my team to improve safeguards in place throughout the district" Auditor Galloway said.
House pleaded guilty to a Class C Felony for defrauding the school district out of more than $100,000. She was ordered to repay a portion of the stolen funds and serve five years of probation as part of a negotiated plea agreement.
Auditor Galloway released an audit of cash handling procedures at the Waynesville School District last fall. District officials requested the audit of the school's procedures for handling cash payments after they identified a discrepancy in financial records that led them to the embezzlement activities. Auditors will return later this year to review improvements in the district.
Auditor Galloway is currently working with the state's prosecuting attorneys to increase penalties for public officials and employees who use their positions to benefit themselves at the expense of taxpayers. Senate Bill 176, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, grants additional authority to prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement agencies when inappropriate or illegal activity is suspected, and allows the State Auditor to assist in forensic investigations related to financial mismanagement or theft. This measure has the support of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and is currently pending before the General Assembly.