By Amanda Rogers
Teachers, parents and staff at Roberta Tipps Academy voiced their frustrations and even considered disbanding the PTA at Thursday’s meeting.
Former Roberta Tipps PTA president Jennifer Medina, 41, was arrested Jan. 13 for theft between $2,500-$30,000, the result of an investigation by the Mansfield ISD police. Medina served as PTA president at Roberta Tipps for two years and as treasurer for two years.
PTA members, many of whom are new to the organization, say they are left to deal with the fallout from the previous leadership, a lack of funds and unpaid debts.
“I gave the police $39,000 in receipts and there’s $8,000 in (our account),” said Delilah Crosby, who took over as PTA president at Roberta Tipps last fall. “We have made it very clear that there is a big amount missing.”
Teachers say programs and events are being affected by the lack of money, which are normally funded by the PTA.
“As a teacher, I have wanted to do things but there’s no money,” said Shea Stapleton, who teaches third grade at the school. “I got a grant for half, but we don’t have money to go ahead. I think we have been sadly deceived for the past couple of years.”
PTA board members are also frustrated.
“We are negative if we actually paid off all our debt,” Crosby said. “We don’t have enough money for a daddy/daughter dance. We don’t have any money.”
Board member Soschia Barranada said she is concerned because the PTA board has not been able to discuss the case with other parents at the school.
“Can we make a statement to our parents so they are not hearing it on the news?” Barranada asked.
Texas PTA Secretary Tiffany Rogers, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said that the PTA doesn’t have a statement because it’s an ongoing investigation. She said that the PTA could share the statement the Mansfield ISD released Jan. 18.
The statement read: “In late November, the Mansfield ISD Police Department received a complaint about possible missing funds from the Roberta Tipps Elementary School PTA,” the school district said in a statement. “Following a thorough investigation, MISD Police obtained an arrest warrant for Jennifer Medina on a state jail felony charge of Theft of Property $2,500 - $30,000. MISD Police arrested Medina on Friday, Jan. 13.”
Parent Tyler Hernandez made the motion to dissolve the Roberta Tipps PTA and form a PTO, an independent organization that mirrors the PTA but without the oversight.
“In a couple of years, it could make sense for this school to rejoin the PTA,” Hernandez said. “Right now, it makes sense to eliminate the bureaucracy and move things forward with the parents.”
Hernandez said that the current PTA board at Roberta Tipps “is doing a phenomenal job leading us. How is the PTA helping us? My personal experience with the PTA has not demonstrated that they care as much about parents and teaches as they do about politics and publicity.”
Hernandez made the motion to leave the PTA organization due to a lack of support, he said.
Several people at the meeting spoke up about the benefits of staying in the PTA, including Mansfield ISD school board member Desiree Thomas.
“Let’s figure out what we can do to support you guys,” Thomas said. “Roberta Tipps has always been a very strong PTA. I’ve been on the (Mansfield ISD Council of PTAs) for 15 years. Don’t give up because you’ve had a bump in the road. It’s a big bump. Tell us what you need.”
Crosby and other board members said that they aren’t sure how much money is missing.
“We have contacted the insurance company and there is an issue with that, too,” Crosby said. “The amount is still under investigation. We need a CPA to go in and go through the accounts.”
Rogers explained that she could request the Texas PTA conduct an audit of the PTA’s books.
With 19 members present, the vote was 14 not to leave the PTA and 5 to leave, so the motion to dissolve the Roberta Tipps PTA was defeated.
The next regular meeting will be in March.
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