Popular former Seattle principal accused of misusing district funds

Updated:

Loading

A former Seattle elementary school principal is the focus of a police investigation into $30,000 in missing school funds, according to a report released Thursday morning.

ElDoris Turner, who abruptly retired from Van Asselt Elementary in March after an ethics investigation, is accused of mismanaging and perhaps stealing the funds.

“My jaw is dropped. I can’t even process it. It’s just crazy,” said Karen Raunig, a parent who first heard about the controversy when a letter came home with her students this week. “Why would somebody do that? I don’t understand how somebody could just take money like that; that much money.”

According to the investigation, Turner kept a Seattle Public Schools bank account open, after the district changed accounting procedures and ordered administrators to deposit money directly to the district instead. Investigators said that between 2009 and 2011, Turner withdrew $30,000 from the account and she can’t account for most of it.

"We have no evidence that (the money) was diverted to anybody's personal use, but at the same time, we have no evidende that it was used for district purposes," said Wayne Barnett of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. "What we've seen happen here is really an outrageous breach of trust."

A second part of the investigation involves an accusation that Turner rented out the school gym to a company called Seattle Select Sports. Investigators said they found no evidence the district received any of the money.

KIRO 7's Essex Porter caught up with the owner of Seattle Select, Robert Jeffcoat, in the driveway of his home.

"I don't know anything about it," Jeffcoat said. "If you want to talk to my attorney, talk to my attorney."

Asked if the money was used properly, Jeffcoat said, "I don't know. I don't know anything about it."

By all accounts, Turner was a well-respected and well-liked principal.

“An unauthorized bank account with school money? Oh, jeez. Really?” said Mike Rodak, who has a 4th-grade daughter at Van Asselt.

He said he was willing to give Turner the benefit of the doubt, until we gave him details of the investigation.

“Very nice person, great with the kids, really stressed education,” he said.

The ethnically diverse Van Asselt had seen an increase in test scores under her leadership.

Parents and teachers became suspicious last year when they asked for fundraising details about how much money had been raised and where it went, according to the report. Parents and staffers went to the district, which then passed the matter on to the city’s Ethics and Elections Commission.

That led to the current police investigation.

Turner retired with a full pension, but the state could decide to revoke that if she is charged and convicted of a crime.