Feb. 8, 2017

A letter from our Junior Warden and Senior Warden in response to a Facebook posting by Emily Van Bogaert.

Dear Emily,

We are sorry you feel this way. We, too, are saddened that children have been caught in the middle of this situation.

However, while the emotional intensity of your letter is clear, it in no way discounts or detracts from the facts and ill-advised behavior of the preschool directors. Nor does it any way diminish the preschool directors’ choice to ignore guidelines established by the national church and basic accounting principles that St. Matthew’s is bound to follow as the owner of the preschool.

St. Matthew’s has been in conversation with the preschool director and its board chair over the requirement imposed by the national church and the diocese that the preschool faithfully and fully comply with the safety requirements which are known as Safeguarding God’s Children. The preschool strongly resisted these requirements, dismissing them as whimsical when they were both mandatory and critically important. The safety of the preschool children has always been of paramount importance to our church. That is why we were pushing so hard to have the policies of the national church followed. It has only been very recently that the preschool finally instituted necessary safeguard requirements.

Concurrently with these discussions, new issues surfaced concerning the lack of sound financial controls with the preschool’s money management. The preschool ignored a requirement that checks be co-signed by a church staff member. This situation deteriorated when the preschool administration began to refuse to make their bank statements available for review by the rector, another example of their thwarting proper financial oversight. Provision of Quicken-generated reports does not equate to official account statements from the bank holding the funds.

Greatly concerned about these two red flags of financial problems, the rector and legal counsel went in person on Friday, February 3 to the bank and requested the preschool’s monthly statements. Only then did they learn that $204,767 had been transferred secretively.

The belief that this money “belongs” to the preschool is incorrect. The money belongs to the 501(c)(3) non-profit which is owned and controlled by St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. It does not belong to individuals or to the school administration nor does it belong to the new organization which the administrators are starting up. St. Matthew’s has stood willing to negotiate a separation on fair and transparent terms with the departing preschool administration as they transition to a new building and a different organization. We remain committed to a fair resolution but are deeply concerned at the unauthorized seizure of a very large amount of funds without the parish’s knowledge or authorization.

We hope that the transferred funds will be recovered and, if so, they will be used to meet all obligations of the old LLC, including any refunds of tuition payments as might be legally due to preschool parents.

Rick Lotz, Senior Warden
Tom Kolb, Junior Warden

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