GTA funds missing

GUILDERLAND — On March 3, the Guilderland Teachers Association contacted the Guilderland Police about funds missing from the union’s treasury.

Guilderland’s superintendent, Marie Wiles, said that in late October, Maceo Dubose, the president of the teachers’ union, had “shared with us he had some concerns and asked us if we could provide him with copies of checks.”

Wiles went on, “We did. He shared them with New York State United Teachers,” she said, referring to the umbrella union, “and they embarked on an investigation.”

Wiles stressed that the money that has perhaps been embezzled is not school district money, but rather union funds. “We deduct dues from all of the member checks and write a check” to the unions, she said.

The GTA has roughly 450 members, which includes nurses, counselors, social workers, and psychologists as well as teachers. Their dues are a proportion of their salaries, said Wiles.

Dubose said this week that the union members pay biweekly dues of about $40.

“Everybody pays local, state, and national,” Dubose said of the dues.

Asked what the local funds go for, he replied, “We have a budget,” and went on to itemize expenditures on scholarships, contributions to different organizations, stipends for officers, and fees for leadership conferences.

Dubose said he did not know how much money is missing. “That’s why the police are investigating,” he said.

Asked if the loss of funds is enough to cripple union activities, Dubose said, “Not at this point.”

He added, “Members are aware some money is missing.”

Asked when it was first noted that the account was awry, Dubose said, “Probably in the fall....This has been ongoing.”

He also said, “Two signatures are on all our checks...[There is] no clerical error here.”

Asked if it is one of the GTA members who is stealing, Dubose said, “That’s the thought.”

Dubose concluded, “It’s appropriate I not make any more comments...This is a GTA issue.”

Calls to the Guilderland Police were referred to Investigator Charles Tanner who said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

For a typical timeline for solving such a case, Tanner said, “It all depends on how subpoenas, search warrants come back.”

Asked, if two people signed each check, couldn’t embezzlement be solved by looking at those two people, Tanner said, “You’re a smart person but I’m not going to comment.” He did say yesterday police are investigating a single suspect.

Wiles said that, last week, after Dubose released information to the Guilderland Police and shared it with union members, “The individual called in sick and was very upset.”

She returned to school this Monday, said Wiles. “We re-assigned the individual so as not to disrupt the educational process...She’ll work on a curriculum project,” said Wiles, who declined to name the suspect.

Rather, Wiles stressed that no charges have been filed and that there is “a presumption of innocence unless proven otherwise.”

She went on, “If there is an otherwise, we’d take action. I don’t know where this will go...With only allegations, we’re in a wait-and-see [mode].”

Wiles said that her “number-one concern” is to see that the educational process is not disrupted. “We always put the needs and interests of kids first,” she said. “When kids come to school, I need them to feel that every individual is focused on the work at hand. The potential for distraction is real.”

She also said the suspect’s reassignment is temporary until allegations are proved or disproved.

Wiles concluded, “I want to be very careful about not presuming this is a done deal. We have to let the process unfold as the process must...We’re in this gray unknown. It’s hard to be comfortable with ambiguity but that’s where we are.”

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