DELTONA, Fla. – It's been a struggle for the band department at Heritage Middle School, after deputies said the band association's treasurer, 41-year-old Shawn Sablotne, stole $10,000 for her personal use.
"That money that was all put together was just taken and taken by somebody they trusted. It was very upsetting to them," said, Jennifer Jones, parent of a band member.
Jones' son plays drums and trumpet in the band. She said the money is used for uniforms, instruments and scholarships for students who can't afford to be part of the program.
"It really does affect individual students," she said.
Jones created a GoFundMe account to replace the stolen money. The band department only has one fundraiser a year, which isn't enough to cover the loss.
"I am aware that because a band parent stole from the band organization, it's going to take faith from the community to believe that I'm not going to do the same," she said.
Jones received the band director's blessing before creating the fundraising account. All the money will be used only for the band department.
The Heritage Middle School Band Association is also rebuilding its bylaws and how the funds will be handled.
Band Association President Mark Pulaski said they're now required to hold more meetings, the treasurer must provide additional paperwork along with bank statements and checks must have dual signatures.
"There's accountability across the board, transparency across the board. So, now everyone can see everything. There's no hiding," Pulaski said.
Pulaski said the association will also become a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization, which allows them to accept donations and distribute the money through a bank account.
"I want our students to know that even when something goes wrong, somebody makes a bad choice, the community can come together and make the situation right," Jones said.
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