HOUSTON — Oscar Gonzales had big plans for student groups at Hamilton Middle School in the Heights when he took over as president of the parent teacher organization last summer.
“Possibly building some batting cages, pitching machines and helping out the different programs with what they needed,” Gonzales said.
But all of that is now on hold after Gonzales started looking at bank statements from the PTO account.
“That’s where I discovered that all the funds were missing, almost everything,” he said.
The financial records reveal a balance of more than $29,000 in May 2018. That total was drained down to just over $2,100 in June the following year. Gonzales said there are no receipts, invoices or other paperwork to account for the spending.
“It makes me very angry,” Gonzales said. “Angry, upset, disappointed.”
KHOU 11 Investigates reached out to former PTO president Willian Jaudon, to ask about the money that went missing under his watch. Jaudon could not immediately explain the unaccounted funds.
But he should know. Bank records show Juadon’s name and signature on cash withdrawal slips totaling $7,760. The transactions range from $650 withdrawals up to $2,000. Bank statements also reveal dozens of ATM withdrawals, ranging from once or twice a month to more than 10 ATM cash transactions in a month. That was the case this past December, when the Hamilton Middle School PTO bank card was used to take out $1,800 during Christmas week alone.
Gonzales said there were no school events or functions during Christmas break that would justify the expenses. He added that the PTO has a written policy requiring a board member to e-mail other members of the board to get their written agreement for any expenses.
“But there has been no paper trail at all,” Gonzales said.
On top of the cash withdrawals, Gonzales also found questionable purchases in the PTO bank statements. Those include $681 spent at Microcenter, $410 at Fry’s electronics and $527 at IKEA.
Again, the PTO was never notified, nor approved of the transactions, according to Gonzales.
“The bottom line is that we have policies and procedures giving permission for somebody to make an expense and spend money,” Gonzales said. “And none of those protocols were followed.”
Again, Jaudon offered no explanation during a short interview outside of his home. After a few questions, he asked us to leave.
“I appreciate you coming out, but I got to go,” he said.
Jaudon did send KHOU 11 Investigates a text message that read:
“All of the receipts and information regarding the PTO were in a box I had taken up to the school on its last day. I had gone in to say goodbye to everyone, stopped by the offices and spoke to the teachers in the cafeteria to thank them. I left the box somewhere at the school. The last place I can remember seeing it was in the PTO closet.”
Gonzales said he has never found any such box and no receipts or other paperwork to indicate the missing funds went to benefit teachers or kids.
“Just to say, ‘Oh, you know, it’s in a box somewhere at school,’ c’mon, give me a break,” Gonzales said. “You know I might have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night.”
Gonzales, who is a retired longtime Harris County Sheriff’s deputy, said he’s tightened up financial checks and balances under his watch as PTO president.
He also said, and the Houston Independent School District confirms, that a police investigation into the missing money is underway.
An HISD spokesperson said that parent-teacher organizations are separate entities from the school district and operate through fundraising activities, not tax dollars.
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