Prosecutors investigative mishandling of disabled student stipends

WASHINGTON – The record keeping was admittedly sloppy, but was a crime committed?

That’s the focus of a two-track investigation into the financial dealings at a Montgomery County public school for students with disabilities.

In a letter sent home to parents of students at the Rock Terrace School in Rockville, Montgomery County Associate Superintendent Christopher Garran said that the school system found no criminal wrongdoing, but that it continues to investigate how student stipends and bank accounts were handled by the administration.

Garran also explained that the county’s state’s attorney’s office is investigating and that the school would be cooperate by making student bank account records available to prosecutors, who subpeonaed the information. Parents are to receive copies of the subpeonas.

Since WTOP reported parent concerns regarding the bank accounts, Principal Dianne Thornton retired and the school system has continued to look into the matter. Routine audits by the school system’s own financial management administrators had flagged concerns about record-keeping related to things like ticket sales and funding field trips in 2011.

Parents told WTOP last month that they suddenly discovered that their young, adult children had bank accounts tied to the school. Some parents also reported receiving W-2’s in the names of their children, but that the addresses on both the bank accounts and the W-2’s listed the school’s address instead of the student’s home.

In the letter, school officials defended the goal behind the accounts and stipends saying the program helps students learn to handle earnings from a job and prepare them to function in the community after they finish school.

School officials have scheduled a meeting with parents for 7 p.m. Thursday at Rock Terrace School.

Read the a copy of the letter obtained by WTOP. The student’s name and address have been redacted to protect the student’s identity.


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WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @kateryanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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