Former Colerain High basketball coach mismanaged fundraiser, owes $7,735, auditor says

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio - A former girls basketball coach at Colerain High School mismanaged a fundraiser and owes the Northwest Local School District $7,735, the Ohio Auditor’s Office announced Tuesday.

Bernard Caldwell held the fundraiser without the district’s knowledge and failed to follow policies for fundraising and record keeping, according to a release from Auditor David Yost.

Caldwell ordered 400 coupon books from Great American Savings in August 2016 and agreed to give the company half of the proceeds from the sale of each $25 book. In February 2017, the district became aware of the fundraiser when the company requested a $5,100 payment that it never received from Caldwell. The amount included a $100 late fee.

According to the release, Caldwell admitted to investigators that he did not keep accurate records of sales or an inventory of merchandise, and he never returned the unsold coupon books to the company. Auditors determined that the team sold 267 coupon books. Caldwell returned 34 books to the district during the investigation, leaving 99 unaccounted for.

Records show $1,940 in check payments from the fundraiser were submitted to the Colerain Boosters, who spent the money on items for the girls basketball team. The boosters repaid that amount to the district in May 2017.

Caldwell claimed he deposited proceeds onto a prepaid debit card that he used to make purchases for the team, but he never responded to requests for an account number or records detailing his spending.  

Caldwell, who was on a one-year contract as a substitute teacher and coach, was not rehired for the 2017-2018 school year, a school district official said.

A separate statement from Northwest Superintendent Todd Bowling said, in part:

"Upon discovery of the issue, the Northwest Local School District reported the discrepancy to the Auditor of State and the Ohio Department of Education. The district cooperated fully with the auditor’s office in bringing this situation to a close." 

Auditors issued a finding for recovery against Caldwell, Yost said.

"As public employees, we don’t get to pick and choose which policies to follow,” Yost said. “Anyone who feels differently must be prepared to assume responsibility for the outcome of their actions.”

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