Plainfield School District 202 board member Kevin Kirberg heard more accusations Friday that he lied, lost blank checks and failed to deposit checks while serving as treasurer of CAPE, the district’s PTO/PTA umbrella group.
He didn’t deny any of the allegations raised by those at the group’s monthly meeting. Instead, he repeatedly apologized for his failure to maintain accurate records, saying his lapse was caused by dividing his time among too many volunteer groups that “took priority with my time.”
“I took on this responsibility (as treasurer) because there was a need and they asked me … and this is probably a fault of mine, not being able to say no,” Kirberg said. “I really am sorry. I wish I had just asked for help.”
No allegations of theft have been raised. However, questions have arisen as to why Kirberg presented monthly treasurer’s reports to CAPE that he knew were not accurate and why he was still depositing checks – including many from PTO-PTA member schools – months after he gave up the treasurer’s job in April 2011 to become a school board member.
Current CAPE Treasurer Heather Drake said Kirberg ignored her requests to meet and hand over the books for four months, and she’s since found that blank checks have been lost and some checks allegedly presented to Kirberg were never deposited.
The account was in such disarray that she ended up closing it and opening a new one, she said.
Kirberg apologized to Drake for the problems he left her to resolve.
“I was not upfront about (the state of the group’s financial records) with Heather,” he said. “Should I have been? Yes.”
He also stressed that the mistakes he made while CAPE treasurer do not reflect the kind of work he’s been doing as a school board member, in part because he has ended much of his other volunteer work.
Despite Kirberg’s acknowledgment of wrongdoing, some CAPE representatives remained angry.
“You lied to all of us by preparing false documents every month,” said Margaret Kantor, representative for Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. “I find it very hard to believe you went for two years without saying anything to anyone. … You didn’t do your job at all.”
Elizabeth Ranck, the CAPE representative from Eagle Pointe Elementary School, was even more blunt.
“I’m sorry, but you’re an outright liar,” Ranck said. “You lied to me. I asked you numerous times whether a check was cashed, and you said it was when clearly it wasn’t.”
School board President Roger Bonuchi attended the meeting, as did board members Mike Kelly and Greg Nichols.
Bonuchi said questions over Kirberg’s actions, or lack thereof, raised concerns about the integrity of the entire school board. He’s had several meetings with other board members and the district’s attorney, and one thing that’s been decided is CAPE will come out from under the district’s purview to become its own entity. That means it will need to get state approval as a tax-exempt charity and it will have to alter some of its bylaws.
While some have suggested that Kirberg should be removed from the board, Bonuchi said there was no easy way to accomplish that and that while Kirberg’s actions may have been wrong, there is no indication he did anything illegal.
CAPE Second Vice President Betsey Vinson, who spearheaded the effort to bring the treasury problems to light, said her motivation was to make sure things are done differently from here on out.
“My only concern is we ensure this kind of mess doesn’t happen again,” Vinson said.
Jeff Reach, representative for Indian Trail Middle School, said he believed the group should move on and not let the situation do further damage to CAPE.
“Kevin made a very bad mistake. He’s apologized for it,” Reach said. “Hopefully, we’ve learned from this.”
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