PRAIRIE CITY --Grant County School District No. 4 deputy clerk Kim Rolanda Kimball, 38, of Prairie City, was arrested by Prairie City Police on Thursday, June 12, on 28 charges of first-degree forgery and first-degree aggravated theft after a lengthy investigation into alleged financial improprieties with school district funds.
Prairie City Chief of Police Dave Welch said the investigation was started by the Prairie City school district in March after questions surfaced regarding the school's finances.
"The school district hired a local CPA firm, the Oster Professional Group, in March to conduct an audit, at which time it was brought to the auditor's attention that there were possible improprieties in the school's financial records," Welch said. "There was no complaint filed at that time, just information passed on to the auditors."
As a result of the audit, Welch said some "discrepancies" were found in the financial records, and the information was passed on to school officials.
"The CPA firm then checked back as far as 1998 and discovered discrepancies had been on-going," Welch said.
Reportedly, approximately $70,000 in school funds are unaccounted for.
Welch said he was contacted by District Attorney Lee Carter regarding the incident, and he along with Oregon State Police Detective Mike Durr met with school officials and the CPA to discuss the situation.
"Kimball was interviewed and was subsequently arrested," Welch said.
She was booked into the Grant County Jail and given a conditional release.
The arrest of Kimball for alleged forgery and theft casts a new light on recent school board meetings when some members of the public questioned the district's persistent budget problems.
Dennis Voigt, one of the residents who challenged the school board, said in an interview on June 16, "I never thought it was anything of this magnitude."
Voigt pressed the school district for a copy of a management letter sent by the auditor to the school district, and after about three months of requests and letter-writing, he succeeded in acquiring it. The letter did not contain any new revelations, he said, but "it did say in the management letter that there were problems in the business office."
In December, the school board received its second and most recent audit from Oster Professional Group of John Day. Superintendent Gene Mills and the board said at that time they realized that a $738,000 general fund balance nearly had been spent.
Voigt pressed the auditors during a Jan. 15 public meeting for clarification of what was known and when it was known.
"Was there a management letter sent to the district?" he asked.
Bob Armstrong of Oster answered, "Yes."
"Did this management letter spell out any improprieties at the time?" Voigt asked.
Armstrong paused as he chose his response carefully.
"By what would you define the word 'improprieties'?" he asked. "On the surface, my understanding of that (word), I would say no. ... That word has a whole connotation to me of things that have been done illegally, which ... no. Our management letter said there were some serious internal control issues related to financial reporting."
Kimball will appear in Grant County Circuit Court Tuesday, June 24, to be formally charged with the offenses.