DES MOINES, Iowa — A former Studebaker Elementary PTO treasurer is being charged for theft in the first degree after allegedly stealing $12,000 from the organization.
Christina Jasmer misappropriated the money for personal use around the Des Moines metro, according to Polk County court documents.
She was taken into custody Monday, Sept. 19 for both first degree theft and unauthorized use of credit card over $10,000.
Local 5 spoke with Maria DeJesus, who has been on the Studebaker PTO board for 10 years. In that decade, she said she would have never guessed she'd see the organizations bank account go from over $12,000 down to just $4.
"To go from seeing the bank account being down to $4, was devastating," DeJesus said.
She added that before the money was stolen, the organization almost had enough money for the school year. But now she's unsure how the group will be able to help.
"Without funding, we're not able to do anything for the students. Teachers aren't able to get supplies that are needed for these students," DeJesus said.
Studebaker Elementary Principal Brian Crook sent out a note to parents detailing the situation. The PTO posted a screenshot of the message on its Facebook page Tuesday.
The missing $12,000 is something DeJesus said she never saw coming.
"We really didn't suspect anything. And like I said, we don't spend any money in the month of July," she said. "So we didn't find out until we got our August statement."
According to DeJesus, those funds were intended to be used to support teachers and student activities like Fun Night, Boy’s Night Out, Girl’s Night Out and more.
"[The money] provides field trips, busing for the field trips. Also, like VIP events, basically like supplies for like art, P.E., STEM, music. For the students, class parties for the students," DeJesus said.
She said that, although the misuse of funds is discouraging, she hopes people see that the actions of one person don't represent what the board stands for.
"One person can make a bad choice, but it doesn't mean that the whole entire committee is full of bad people," DeJesus said. "We, everybody that I've been on the PTO with for 10 years, there have been multiple people who come and go. We've never had an issue like this in the past."
The school has said it hopes to see some of those funds return, but until then, it might have to rely on fundraising to make up for the lost money.
Studebaker Elementary is currently working on a GoFundMe page where parents can donate to help the PTO get back on their feet.