A Message Regarding the FCMAT Report Involving Esperanza High School

June 22, 2019

A report has been released by the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) with evidence that suggests a former Esperanza High School finance clerk allegedly embezzled over $859,000 from the Associated Student Body (ASB) financial account. Although only $859,000 can be confirmed, patterns suggest the alleged embezzlement may have amounted to more.

When the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) became aware of possible irregularities relating to the ASB financial account, a swift and aggressive internal investigation was launched to determine the nature and scope. This included an internal investigation of ASB banking transactions in the school’s financial account, and the initial filing of a police report with the Anaheim Police Department.

During the internal investigation, the District consulted with the agency responsible for school district financial oversight, Orange County Department of Education (OCDE). OCDE reviewed the information uncovered during the District’s internal investigation, and recommended the District consider an AB 139 Extraordinary Audit in accordance with Education Code Section 1241.5 (b). Per section 1241.5 (b), OCDE is authorized to review or audit the expenditures and internal controls of any school district in the county if there is reason to believe that fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal fiscal practices have occurred that merit examination.

FCMAT is the organization authorized to complete the AB 139 Extraordinary Audit and provide a report related to any account irregularities. Once completed, the results of FCMAT’s comprehensive audit were shared with OCDE and the District, then subsequently shared with the State Controller, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Office of the District Attorney of Orange County.

The District will fully support and cooperate with the Orange County District Attorney’s consideration into the ASB account irregularities and alleged, individual misconduct. The District will also remain intensely committed to ensuring the former finance clerk is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law for their alleged actions.

The ASB funds in question were raised by students for various activities and organizations on campus, and were kept completely separate from the District’s operational dollars. It is typical for ASB programs to have their own checking accounts that are monitored by finance clerks.

In moving forward, the District has been in communication with its independent audit firm regarding practices and procedures governing ASB audits. The firm has offered and agreed to make modifications that will strengthen the independent audit process.

Lastly, PYLUSD has filed a claim with its insurance provider, and will adamantly pursue full reimbursement to compensate Esperanza High School for its substantial loss.

June 27, 2019

Dear PYLUSD Community,

I am sure by now that many of you have read the District’s statement regarding the FCMAT report including Esperanza High School. I would like to thank the many students, families, community members, and alumni who have taken the time to express their disappointment regarding the information outlined in the report. I can assure you that we share your same sentiments, and are doing everything in our power to make appropriate changes and strengthen procedures district-wide in moving forward.

I hope you understand that, while it would be our desire to share additional information with our community regarding our next steps, this is an active investigation. As a result, the District Attorney of Orange County has asked us to be of assistance by not sharing any additional information at this time. We promise that, when it is appropriate, we will share updates. As always, thank you for your continued support of all students in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, and especially for the students and community of Esperanza High School at this time.

Dr. Greg Plutko
Superintendent of Schools
Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District

July 10, 2019

At the regularly scheduled Board of Education Meeting on July 9, Dr. Greg Plutko asked David Giordano, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, to present information regarding the AB 139 Audit performed by the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team, known as FCMAT. Included below is a copy of the presentation Mr. Giordano provided to Trustees, Executive Cabinet members, and others in attendance during open session that evening.
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