UPDATE: Fraud detective probes fundraising for Valencia High School softball team


A detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau confirmed for The Signal Friday he is following up on a written complaint about the fundraising of the Valencia High School softball team.

The detective assigned to the case stressed, however, he has not even had a chance to assess the merits of the complaint.

“A complaint has been filed,” Det. Mike Marino told The Signal Friday, noting it was a complaint about the fundraising for the Valencia High School softball team. “I’m the detective assigned to the case.

“It’s in the preliminary investigating phase,” Marino said. “I have not even determined the merits of the case.”

Officials with the William S. Hart Union High School District who were asked repeatedly last month to confirm whether or not they received a formal complaint from parents of Valencia High School students about fundraising for the school’s softball team, told The Signal they were investigating the “situation.”

On Friday, when asked if the District had received a formal written complaint about fundraising for the Valencia High School solfball team, District spokesman Dave Caldwell said:  “The district does not comment on personnel related items.”

Early last month, after repeated questions about fundraising for the Valencia High School softball team, Caldwell told The Signal on May 1:

“Nothing is thrown in the trash can. Every complaint is taken seriously and brought to the appropriate person to handle it,” he said more than month ago.

Caldwell was also asked about the District’s fundraising practices, specifically:

“What is the District’s policy on booster clubs raising money for various sports teams and other school groups – i.e. band and choir?”

Caldwell told The Signal the matter is up to the school not the District, saying: “The schools oversee the conduct of booster clubs and their ASBs.”

Booster club organizers have two ways to run their clubs’ funds: under private accounts or registering as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The choice is up to the club founders.

This is the second documented instance, however, where parents have questioned the handling of booster funds at Valencia High School in the Hart school district.

Last year, a former Valencia High School varsity baseball coach pleaded guilty to grand theft and was ordered to pay the $14,129 in restitution. Parents first complained about the former coach, Jared Snyder, in May of 2014.

At the time, school district spokesperson Gail Pinsker said both bookkeeping methods – private accounts or registered as nonprofits – are legitimate, district-approved ways of supporting school teams and groups, Pinsker said in 2014.

Caldwell was asked which bookkeeping methods the Valencia Softball team uses and whether or not the school’s softball team has a booster club.

His response: “I don’t have the answers to those questions.”

At least three phone messages left for the coach of the school’s softball team in early May were not returned.

Efforts Friday afternoon to reach any officials at Valencia High School were unsuccessful.

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on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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