DeKalb schools' audits find evidence of theft, fraud

The DeKalb District Attorney is now reviewing these files, which include affidavits from former school paraprofessional Daphne Murphy and bookkeeper Chyrokessia Rucks. Both women are accused of stealing student fees.

A letter obtain by the AJC shows Murphy admitted to theft in connection to $11,760 in cheerleading and other student fees at Miller Grove High School. She also refused to cooperate with the internal investigation, according to school records.

“While this is not easy, I took money from the cheer account at MGHS. I regret every wrongdoing and am saddened by the things I have done,” Murphy wrote.

Murphy attempted to resign, but interim superintendent Ramona Tyson refused to accept the resignation and terminated Murphy.

Reached Thursday, Murphy declined comment. 

In a letter to school officials, Murphy said she hoped to pay the money back and get her job back.

After questions by school investigators, Rucks admitted she "either lost or someone stole" $7,000-$8,000 in school money. The audit found $11,640 in Class of 2010 student fees’ missing.

“Instead of reporting this event, I panicked and began to replace those funds as best I could,” she wrote in an affidavit.

Rucks told investigators she repaid some of the money with her salary and borrowed money from her brother. School officials said they have no record that any of the money was repaid.

Rucks, reached Thursday, refused to comment.

Both incidents of missing funds were discovered by the school system’s new internal auditor, hired last year.

An audit of the past three school years at Miller Grove shows $11,760 was received by Murphy, but no deposits were made. The audit also showed purchases were made for $11,788 in school supplies and $1,025 in cheerleading equipment without the principal’s approval. Both of those bills are still pending because there is no money in the account, the audit states.

The auditor said he is still conducting the 2010-11 school year audit and has already found “indistinguishable fraudulent activity.”

In addition to the missing funds, the Stone Mountain High audit shows the school violated reimbursement procedures for federal money and ended the last school year with a $6,800 shortfall. Of 92 deposits reviewed by investigators, 31 were held on to by the bookkeeper for more than 30 days and seven were missing paperwork, the audit shows.

Another Stone Mountain employee, Lisa Amorer, who oversaw the International Club, admitted she was still selling international club books and collecting money in the name of the school after she was terminated, the audit revealed. She was contacted by the auditor and turned over the funds.

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