Buckley school district employee committed fraud, audit finds

A state audit released Thursday shows that the White River School District in Buckley was defrauded of more than $20,000 by an employee who helped run before- and after- school programs for children.

Vic Robbins, an assistant for the district’s Community Activities Program, was placed on administrative leave in February after the program coordinator noticed an error while doing an internal audit.

The district began an investigation and called the Washington State Auditor’s office to confirm the findings.

The state audit found that from Sept. 1, 2010 through Jan. 31, 2014, Robbins didn’t pay $9,473 in fees for after school programs that his two daughters attended, as well as $243 in various recreational programs for them, according to the report.

During that time, Robbins also collected $10,747 in other families’ Kids Klub payments that were not deposited with the school district, according to the report.

Kids Klub offers before and after school activities including games, crafts and sports for elementary age students in the small district of fewer than 4,000 students.

As the assistant for the program, Robbins was responsible for organizing activities for the Buckley community as well as financial accounting for Kids Klub.

According to the report, in April 2014, Robbins acknowledged that he did not pay for the school program services, and that he had received payments intended for the program but did not deposit them into the school district’s bank account.

“I made a big mistake,” Robbins told The News Tribune on Thursday. “I let a lot of people down.”

Robbins would not comment on the financial fraud findings, but said he is looking to put it in the past and move on.

He resigned April 23 after a five-year employment with the school district, said Superintendent Janel Keating.

The district sought recovery for a total of $25,725.37 in missing funds and related investigation costs for the last four years.

The settlement of this claim by the district was approved by the Attorney General and State Auditor, according to the report.

“It was a really difficult situation for the district because it involved people we care about, but the district did what they had to do,” Keating said.

Robbins has been cooperative throughout the process, Keating said. A restitution plan was implemented, which Robbins must pay off in the next five years, Keating said.

Robbins told a reporter he has already paid off more than half of the restitution.

Cash flow misappropriation may have been possible because the former coordinator did not adequately monitor whether Kids Klub fees were collected, nor were the payments recorded on ledger sheets kept in participants’ files, according to the state audit.

A new system was enacted immediately to ensure fraudulent behavior is avoided in the future, Keating said.

Parents are now required to pay fees directly to Community Activities Program office either in person or mail as opposed to leaving cash at the Kids Klub school sites, she said.

“We’re better because of this error, but it’s not something you want to learn from very often,” she said.