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'We want accountability': Thousands of dollars stolen from elementary school's PTO, Hondo Police say

A person 'directly linked' to the Meyer PTO has been identified as a suspect. About $20K-30K was drained from the bank account, according to police.

HONDO, Texas — Hondo Police are investigating after tens of thousands of dollars from an elementary school's Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) went missing.

Hondo Police Chief Justin Soza told KENS 5 a suspect has been identified. She is directly linked to the Meyer PTO group, the police chief said, and was taken in for questioning. 

"On Friday, our officers received a call where they were informed what was going on," said Police Chief Soza. "They took an initial offense report, but they were asked to hold off a little bit for the organization as a whole to get together and decide how they wanted to proceed. On Tuesday afternoon, our detectives met with the PTO, during which time they [pursued] charges."

Police Chief Soza says the thief has not returned the money.

The suspect's name is not being released, as no charges have been laid at this time.

Detectives are in the process of interviewing people, obtaining search warrants and looking at financial records. 

"I felt frustration, rage," said Genevie Garza, who has children enrolled at Meyer Elementary. "Given who the alleged person is, who she is akin to, it doesn’t give her the right to - it's just so upsetting!"

The money was raised by children and the community. It was supposed to be used on extra curricular activities, events and field trips. 

"Last month, students sold 1,400 [bags of scented wax] at $12 a piece," said another parent as she teared up.  

Wednesday night, several people gathered in Hondo to voice their concerns. Two elementary students held a sign that read, ‘Where did our money go?’

Garza set up a Facebook page to encourage Hondo families to speak out against the alleged corruption. 

“These children are our future," said Debbie Barrientos, a multigenerational Hondo ISD parent. "What kind of morals or values are these people teaching our children? That it’s okay to steal?”

The PTO said on its Facebook page that other organizations have stepped up to help replenish the group's funds.

Parents who spoke with KENS 5 said until there is accountability and change within the system, they will put their money elsewhere. 

KENS 5 reached out to the Meyer PTO for comment, but were directed back to the Hondo Police Department. 

We are also waiting to hear back from the Hondo Independent School District, which is separate from the Meyer PTO. 

Parents plan to protest at the Court Commissioners meeting Thursday, starting at 9 a.m.

The full statement from the Meyer Elementary PTO's Facebook page is below:

"It is with much regret that the Meyer PTO informs you of the following situation. On Thursday of last week the members of the PTO committee were alerted to suspicious activity in the organizations bank account. After investigating, it was discovered that the money in its entirety was stolen. Please rest assured that Hondo PD was informed promptly and a formal police report was initiated. 

While of course any act of thievery is a frustration, the fact that it comes at the expense of our elementary children’s education, enrichment and opportunity makes this event all the more catastrophic. Already, our local businesses and church’s alike have come forward to offer help to replenish funding for our children and teachers. We are immensely grateful for this outreach. 

As members of this district, we know and understand the family centeredness that the Owl community lives under, and how this community comes together to support its own, and to make sure no child will be left behind or in want. 

With this knowledge we, as your children’s elementary PTO, come to you for assistance to recoup what was taken. The trust with the organization, while broken, can be bridged with time - but our children’s needs are today and now. 

Any questions concerning the investigation should be directed to the Hondo Police Department."



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