The Clarendon Hills Middle School fundraising event known as Donoroo will not be held going forward after it was discovered that payments to some benefitting charities were not distributed on time, District 181 Superintendent Renée Schuster said Monday night.
At a District 181 Board of Education meeting at Elm School, Schuster said the issue of late payments was raised over the summer, and an ensuing investigation by director of human resources Doug Eccarius showed that payments had indeed not been made.
“I regret that we made some errors as we were processing things and did not pay the charities on time,” Schuster said.
The superintendent said all funds promised to Donoroo charities have since been distributed from the Donoroo account, and that the springtime event will not take place in 2014 and beyond.
Schuster said there was no intentional misappropriation of funds.
“We are humans and mistakes can happen,” she said, noting that staff training on how to properly put on charity events like Donoroo could be implemented going forward.
The Doings Hinsdale reported last week that the organizer of Donoroo, CHMS nurse Kathy Donohue, was made aware last summer that over the last three years some charities designated as beneficiaries had not been paid.
In addition, Schuster confirmed Monday that funds from the Donoroo account had been used to purchase $687.74 worth of items used for Donoroo and other CHMS events. The account was reimbursed that amount by District 181 before it was emptied via a final donation to Engineers Without Borders.
While Board President Marty Turek and several other board members said they were satisfied with the findings of the district’s investigation, board member Gary Clarin volunteered to go over all the relevant documents to make sure nothing was overlooked.
Schuster said she appreciated the board looking over the investigation.
“We understand there are rumors out there and we don’t want to leave that out there, that doubt,” she said.
According to The Doings, Donoroo began six years ago after the 2007 death of Donohue’s nephew in a drunk-driving accident. The paper reports that the six Donoroo events raised a combined $30,000.
In 2013, The Doings reports, the selected charities were Lurie Children’s Hospital, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Engineers Without Borders, and the CHMS Gives Back Fund.
Board member Brendan Heneghan said he believes that the district and its schools should leave fundraising events like Donoroo to the various PTOs.
“I don’t think it’s something as a board we want to be overseeing,” Heneghan said.
Turek said he “would tend to agree” with Heneghan’s stance. He recommended revisiting that discussion at a future meeting.
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