Principal, bookkeeper under investigation after audit finds $60K missing from school

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:

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Channel 2 Action News has learned a former DeKalb County school principal and bookkeeper are under criminal investigation after an audit found more than $60,000 missing from school accounts.

Records show the school district first uncovered the missing money nearly two years ago and alerted prosecutors more than a year ago. Charges have not yet been filed.

"We've done our part, we've turned it over to the DA's office. We expect they will make their determination. I'm sure they're weighing things; they know things we don't know," said DeKalb County Schools Spokesman Walter Woods.

The 22-page audit, plus three page addendum, noted $66,370.80 missing from various accounts at Cedar Grove Middle School.

"It wasn't in the accounts it was supposed to be in, and the timeline wasn't right. There were several irregularities found by the audit," said Woods.

According to the audit, the large majority of the missing money was specifically coins and cash from other fundraising efforts swapped out for undocumented vending machine money, which then went unaccounted for.

"The good thing is that the system did work, the regular audits that were done by the office of internal affairs did find these irregularities," said Woods. "We want parents to feel safe about giving to any sort of fundraiser, we want to make sure parents know its safe and it's on the up and up."

At the center of the investigation is former Cedar Grove principal Agnes Flanagan.

Records show the district attorney's office executed a search warrant at Flanagan's Clarkston home more than a year ago, and found the school step team's receipt book.

It documented $945 that "was not deposited into the local school checking account" and is "considered missing."

In December 2010, the school district entered into an agreement with Flanagan to repay more than $11,000. Sources tell Channel 2 she repaid about $6,800, then stopped making payments in Spring 2011.

The district attorney's office was then contacted.

The school district also forwarded information to Georgia's Public Safety Commission for action against Flanagan's educators' license; however, so far no action has been taken.

The school's former bookkeeper, Patricia Murchison, is also under investigation.

"They were put on administrative leave without pay, and both have since left the district," said Woods, "They did retire before any action was taken, before the investigation was completed."

Neither Flanagan nor Murchison returned messages left at their homes for comment.

A district attorney's spokesman would not say why the investigation is taking so long, only that the cases are still under review.