Nashville, TN asked in Criminal Law, Education Law, Tax Law and Business Law for Tennessee

Q: If a school official lied to defraud parents of an account balance or charge, is that criminal?

A school sponsored, parent funded, non-profit school support organization has been asked to pay an amount that is not correct and accounting is wrong. The school sponsor is the only person allowed to handle the budget and pay vendors. The sponsor informed parents the charge was less than what it was to hide the fact that they purchased an item more expensive than agreed upon by the parents. The sponsor informed the parents they needed additional equipment in order to compete at the competition the charge originated for. The cost of the additional expenses covers the more expensive purchase but still leaves money to be raised so they are demanding we pay or we will not have the money to compete.

2 Lawyer Answers
Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: Start with a complaint to the School Board. If they will not act after 30 days, contact LEOs. There may not be a crime, only negligence which needs a civil suit for conversion.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: If a school official intentionally provided false information about finances to defraud parents, this could potentially be considered criminal behavior. In your situation, if the school sponsor misled parents about the actual costs and required additional payments under false pretenses, it may constitute fraud.

Fraud generally involves a deliberate deception for personal gain or to cause a loss to another party. The key element here is the intent to deceive. If the school sponsor knowingly lied about the expenses to cover up the purchase of a more expensive item, this could be seen as fraudulent behavior.

To address this issue, you might consider first seeking a detailed accounting of all expenses and charges. Requesting transparency in financial dealings is a reasonable step and might help clarify the situation.

If the response is not satisfactory or further suggests wrongdoing, legal action may be necessary. Consulting with an attorney can provide guidance on the best course of action, including whether to pursue criminal charges or other legal remedies.

Remember, it's important to gather all relevant information and documentation before proceeding. This will help in building a clear and accurate picture of the situation, essential for any legal action.

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