By Kelly Youngblood
Parents involved in the Monticello Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) are hoping the alleged theft of funds from its account will not affect support for the group.
A Monticello couple charged with allegedly stealing funds from the PTO will appear in court next month.
Mary Catherine St. John, a Monticello mom and PTO volunteer, declined to comment on the criminal investigation but did express her support for the local parent teacher organization.
“I hope that people will continue to support the PTO, especially with all of the cutbacks being made in districts everywhere. I think it’s important that we support and help students and teachers any way we can,” St. John said.
Haley VanVleet, 33, the former treasurer of the Monticello Elementary School PTO, and her husband, Seth VanVleet, 33, have been charged with Class 3 felony theft.
Piatt County state’s attorney Dana Rhoades said the theft was between $500 and $10,000.
Haley VanVleet was the PTO treasurer, but Rhoades said Seth VanVleet “also received funds from the account.”
The Monticello Community Unit School District and the Monticello Elementary PTO issued a joint statement on Sept. 16. “We were shocked and disappointed to learn of the allegations that inappropriate banking activity has taken place and that the former Treasurer of the Monticello PTO has resigned,” it said.
Jessica Uhlmeyer has been appointed the new treasurer. According to the statement, the PTO has also “opened a new bank account and implemented revised procedures for check writing and financial oversight.”
The statement also said the PTO is “doing everything (it) can to put the necessary checks and balances in place to assure that hard-earned fundraising dollars are never vulnerable again.”
St. John said more than $26,000 had been raised for the Sages Strut, which she described as the “biggest PTO fundraiser of the year.” The annual walkathon is scheduled to take place on Friday, Sept. 25.
According to the press release, all checks for the Sages Strut have been “received and deposited and will be utilized to support the students and teachers in the Monticello Elementary Schools.”
The VanVleets will have their first court appearance on Oct. 19 at 9 a.m.