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Former treasurer sentenced to probation for stealing $58,000 from PTO at Jeffco charter school

Jessica Tafoya pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the parent-teacher organization at the K-12 charter school Jefferson Academy.
Credit: Jefferson County DA

A woman was sentenced to four years of probation for stealing $58,000 from the parent-teacher organization at a Jefferson County charter school where she also served as treasurer.

Jessica Tafoya, 36, pleaded guilty to theft, according to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. 

She will also be required to complete 120 hours of community service as part of her sentence.

Tafoya turned herself in to police on Jan. 4 – less than a week after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

According to prosecutors, Tafoya served as the treasurer of the Jefferson Academy Parent Teacher Organization from 2015 to 2017.

After her tenure ended, the new officers for the PTO called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and said there were discrepancies over financial records, according to the news release. Prosecutors now say investigators found unauthorized ATM withdrawals, underpaid invoices and transactions between Tafoya’s personal accounts and those belonging to the PTO.

The Jefferson Academy PTO's response, posted to its Facebook page, cited "inadequate checks and balances" in relation to the charges against Tafoya.

"In the fall of 2017, the incoming PTO board uncovered potential problems through forced rotation. As directed in the PTO bylaws, any person is allowed to serve only two years in a single board position. The books that were handed over after the PTO Treasurer’s two-year tenure appeared incomplete and riddled with discrepancies," the post read.

The post also says the PTO board is "hopeful" that the funds will be recovered. At her sentencing, the District Attorney said Tafoya repaid $32,000 of the $58,000 she stole.

"It is incredibly disappointing when families work so hard to support their students and schools only to have something like this happen," the post read.

Both the Jefferson Academy board and PTO said in an email sent to parents that they have been aware of the situation for 15 months, but were not able to publicly disclose information previously because it "was a legal matter."

"It is disappointing to encounter situations such as these when everyone works so hard to support our students. While we are saddened by the actions of one person, we continue to believe in the integrity of the remainder of the community," the board's letter read.

"The PTO board regrets that we could not reveal anything to the community sooner but doing so would have jeopardized the legal process," the PTO expressed in its Facebook post.

The PTO listed several new controls it says in the post that it has implemented over the past year:

  • Requiring that three PTO board members have full access to the PTO bank account at all times.
  • Eliminating ATM and debit card access to the PTO bank account.
  • Requiring multiple PTO board members to count incoming cash money and ensure its audit trail.
  • Requiring all reimbursement requests to be submitted in writing, signed for and accompanied by appropriate documentation.
  • Issuing all reimbursements by check or PayPal only.
  • Making all PTO financials publicly available.

Jefferson Academy is a K-12 charter school that has three locations the northern part of the county.

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