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$10,000 Returned to One St. Charles East High School Sports Donor

The District 303 superintendent says allegations of misappropriated funds lack 'validity.'

The St. Charles East football team was supposed to have a state-of-the-art scoreboard and thousands of dollars were raised for the project. But, in at least one case, a donor has received a refund check from District 303.

It's been more than a year and the scoreboard at East High School has yet to go up.

The refund was $10,000, returned to a Geneva-based clinic by East Athletic Director Jerry Krieg.

A scheduled audit of East's Athletic Department also is expected to review payments made to coaches from donated funds, payments that were returned by the coaches after they came to the attention of the school administration.

On Thursday morning, district officials told St. Charles Patch an independent audit of the East Athletic Department’s accounting is scheduled to begin June 17.

St. Charles police also are investigating allegations of theft of funds from within the school district. A police spokesman declined to comment Thursday morning on specifics of the investigation.

The audit had first been set up in late May after the school district received allegations from a community member that funds had been misplaced or misappropriated, said Superintendent Donald Schlomann.

“We don’t believe there is any validity in those,” Schlomann said. “It’s not unusual whenever we have leadership changes; we have those books audited.”

Both Krieg and East Principal Robert Miller will not be returning to their positions for the 2011-12 school year. Earlier this year, it was decided that Miller would move to principal of a district middle school. Last month, Krieg announced his retirement from East.

Schlomann stressed that the personnel changes were not because of the recent review or the investigation into the disposition of the donated funds.

Waiting on a scoreboard

Recently, Fox Valley Orthopaedic Institute received a refund check in the amount of $10,000, said Mary O'Brien, CEO. 

The medical practice paid the lump sum in 2009 in order to be an advertising sponsor on the scoreboard. But a few weeks ago, O'Brien and her team got a call from Krieg asking if they wanted the money back.

"They contacted us and said, 'Do you just want to apply it for future advertising or a refund?'" said O'Brien. "We wanted a refund and he brought the check."

According to O'Brien's records, it was a District 303 check that was deposited into the practice's account on May 20 in the amount of $10,000. This is the same amount the group paid for an advertising spot, an arrangement that was worked out through a third party, Slam Dunk Marketing.

"We didn't write the check to the athletic department, no, but the check came back to us from School District 303," explained O'Brien.

The medical practice originally entered into a contract with Ohio-based Slam Dunk Sports Marketing on Dec. 9, 2009 for a 4-by-6 foot "full color backlit static panel" advertisement on the bottom left of the scoreboard, and a 4-by-12 feet "full color video display."

The contract, a copy of which was provided to Patch by the Fox Valley Orthopaedic Institute, stated that the ads would remain on display for five years beginning on the day of installation. The contract does not mention when the board was supposed to be installed, but the practice did receive a receipt for a $10,000 payment that was made using an America Express credit card that was processed on Dec. 22, 2009.

Schlomann said all of the money that had been donated specifically for the football scoreboard has been returned.

Krieg had asked for the audit to be conducted, Schlomann said.

"He had heard those allegations as well and he wanted to make sure," Schlomann said.

Bret Sander, sales director with Slam Dunk Marketing, told Patch that East athletics officials wanted out of the deal. He said school officials had decided to cancel the contract, which then left the school with the responsibility to install the scoreboard and put up advertising.

Sander said his company sent about $20,000 back to the district a year ago, effectively cutting it out of the deal. He also said he didn’t know why the district held onto the money for nearly a year.

"We've never had that done in 10 years of being in business," Sander said.

Donated funds paid to coaches

Among other things, the audit also will examine incidents of East High School coaches receiving payments from donated funds.

Schlomann said coaches returned the payments after the school administration became aware of the transactions.

"Our principal (Robert Miller) learned of that several months ago … before Christmas, I believe," Schlomann said. He added the payments to coaches and subsequent returns also had previously come to light during an independent review of the East's Athletic Department completed earlier this year.

Schlomann did not provide information about why payments of donated funds were made to coaches or who made them.

Nick Swedberg June 10, 2011 at 03:54 AM
Thank you for the balanced and thoughtful comment. Judgement of any kind should be reserved. I would say that we definitely need more information. Check back with us as we continue to find more.
Devon Vida June 10, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Great job Nick and Samantha! I was talking about this story all last night. The Board meeting on Monday will probably be very interesting.
Nick Swedberg June 10, 2011 at 11:55 PM
A comment was removed because it violated our Terms of Service.
Flow June 11, 2011 at 09:06 AM
Why aren't all accounts in public school systems routinely audited? I would have thought that was standard practice. I must be naive. If it is matter of expense, wouldn't unannounced random audits serve a good purpose .... like random drug texts and locker inspections?
Debra Hodgett June 12, 2011 at 05:32 PM
The big losers here are the head basketball coach's job ( Brian Clodi ) and St. Charles East's reputation. I hope the taxpayers who support this school can see through the smoke screen. The superintendent is obviouly trying to do damage control with the media. He needed to make administrative changes and quietly deal with seriuos discrepancies within the athletic department. The basketball coaches firing seems to play into that dog and pony show. Subjective interpretation, I know, but should be very apparent to the parents and students at St. Charles East High School.

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