Women honored for keeping PTO running after theft
Three former Frederick School Parent Teacher Organization volunteers in Grayslake have been publicly lauded for not allowing a former treasurer's theft of money doom the group or its plans for a fitness trail at the school.
At a Grayslake Elementary District 46 school board meeting, Katherine Rasmussen, Mary Grogan and Kendra Clark were recognized for overcoming obstacles created by the theft and keeping the Frederick PTO afloat until former treasurer Elizabeth Bako of Grayslake pleaded guilty and paid $10,000 in partial restitution in 2013. The roughly $11,000 course debuted for the 2015-16 academic year.
Pullup bars and a situp board are among the features of the fitness course adjacent to a bicycle path along Frederick Road. Rasmussen said Friday the course is meant for the entire community to enjoy, not just Frederick's fifth- and sixth-graders.
Frederick Principal Eric Detweiler and Assistant Principal Jodi Cinq-Mars lauded the many hours the women volunteered to keep the PTO running after the theft was discovered.
Detweiler acknowledged the negative effect the theft had on the fitness course plans during his comments at the District 46 board session Sept. 23. The trail was officially dedicated last month.
"This project has been, unfortunately, a few more years in the making than we had hoped when we had first started," he said.
Frederick's PTO wound up in a financial bind as a result of the theft Bako admitted to as part of a plea deal in December 2013, officials said. As part of her sentence, Bako was ordered to repay $17,000 she admitted stealing from the PTO from April 2011 to May 2012.
Rasmussen said the three women continued working with the Frederick PTO for about 1½ years after their children left the school because they didn't want the financially strapped organization to fail due to the theft.
Clark, Rasmussen and Grogan organized fundraisers, such as movie and game nights, to generate cash for the PTO's depleted bank account. The women also got involved with the fitness trail's planning.
"I'm proud of the two women I got to work with side by side through this whole thing," said Rasmussen, who's fighting terminal brain cancer.
Cinq-Mars said purple was selected for the fitness trail equipment because it is Rasmussen's favorite color and as a way to honor her fight against cancer and to regain the PTO's stolen money. Grogan, Clark and Rasmussen attended many of Bako's appearances in Lake County circuit court.
"We cannot thank these ladies enough," Cinq-Mars said. "If they had not dedicated the time and effort they did over the past three years, we probably would not have a PTO today."
Lake County Circuit Judge Victoria Rossetti sentenced Bako to 24 months of probation and 100 hours of community service. Court records show her probation is scheduled to run until late December.