1 April 2022
Officials at Minneapolis North High School are investigating a reported theft of as much as $40,000 from the school’s booster club, according to a post on the school’s Facebook page Friday.
An officer of the North High Booster Club has admitted to the theft, which was discovered by the group’s treasurer, North Principal Mauri Melander Friestleben said. The incident was reported to Minneapolis police at the Fourth Precinct and “We expect a quick investigation & expect charges to be filed & pressed,” she posted.
The North community first learned of the theft in Friestleben’s post Friday.
It began: “Dear Polar Nation: on Tuesday one of our North High Booster Club volunteers (the group’s Treasurer) discovered some money missing from the Club’s bank account & notified us here at the school. On Wednesday, after pulling detailed bank statements, evidence showed a Booster Club Officer had nearly drained their account on personal expenses. On Thursday morning, the total amount was growing to between $30,000-$40,000 as the officers attempted to locate missing deposits & pending charges. Later that morning, the Booster Club officer at the source of the missing funds admitted to the theft, shared remorse & a commitment to return the dollars.”
The booster club has elected a new president and suspended fundraising and other external work while it pursues a full audit. It is also revisiting its by-laws and revamping its banking practices, Friestleben said. The Minneapolis Foundation has set up a fund for those who want to contribute something to help replenish the money that was stolen.
“The Minneapolis Foundation has really stepped up,” she said. “But if people don’t trust us right now, I don’t blame them.”
Commenters on the Facebook page expressed shock and sadness Friday.
“This is very heartbreaking and I’m glad charges will be filed,” said one commenter.
Said another: “Please let us know as alumni if there is a way to help. The kids should not bear the burden of others bad decisions. Sending extra prayers of strength over!”
Friestleben, who said school and booster club officials couldn’t get a clear picture of what happened until Thursday, lamented yet more bad news in a school year filled with it.
“We learned a really hard lesson,” she said. “We just assumed that everyone had the same convictions and passions as we did.”