COLLEGE PARK, Ga. - A Clayton County parent-teacher association has been forced to shut down over thousands of dollars that went missing.
A message dated Feb. 13 said, "All activities of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School PTA must cease due to some serious allegations of misappropriation of funds."
Last week, Superintendent Edmond Heatley sent another letter, this time to the Clayton County Police Department.
"According to school officials, concerned stakeholders and citizens, money is unaccounted for from the PTA at the school. Specifically, it has been alleged that former PTA treasurer Mr. Xavier Ross has not accounted for thousands of dollars that he was entrusted with depositing," the letter said.
"He (Ross) is a person of interest. We just want to speak to him, like we're speaking to everyone else about this case," Sgt. Otis Willis of the Clayton County Police Department said.
Willis said no one has been charged, but the investigation had begun even before the superintendent's letter, following a request from the PTA at the state level.
"We started our investigation approximately a week ago, and right now, we are speaking to PTA members as well as school personnel," Willis said.
A Facebook page suggests that Ross has not been out of school long himself – listing him as a 2012 college graduate, and that he graduated from Riverdale High School in 2008
Another Facebook page is titled "Elect Xavier Ross for Clayton County School Board," with the tagline, "Putting students over politics."
Heatley's letter said, "As a result of this occurrence, our students were denied the opportunity to receive promised and needed resources."
Assistant Principal Joannie Griffey told Channel 2's Mark Winne that the PTA had pledged to fund a student-incentive program, but the PTA's contribution fell short.
"The faculty and staff rallied and gathered the funds themselves," Griffey said.
Ross sent a statement to Winne which said, "I, Xavier Ross, declare and affirm the highest level of innocence in regards to the allegations in part, made by Superintendent, Edmond T. Heatley, of a PTA that was called into question long before I was asked to help.
"I have not committed a crime and this attack on my character and integrity is nothing more than a malicious politically motivating scare tactic. One would think, if there were any legitimacy to the accusations, my accuser would have come forth when it came into question months ago.
"I am furthermore alarmed that these type allegations and statements are being made after I publically decided to run for the School Board. This right here shows poor judgment by the Superintendent and this administration.
"Now, the Superintendent should be about the business of educating our students by attempting to try and raise plummeting test scores, balancing the budget which has not been accurate or correct since he was appointed, and stopping the hiring of his and other upper level leaderships family members while firing good teachers.
"I will continue my race so that this happens.
"I am running to break up this corruption and ensure proper supervision is carried is out so that these propaganda tactics cease, and in Clayton County students are put over politics."