Deneen Kuhlman, a former Desert Hot Springs High School clerk posted the $10,000 bail, after being charged with embezzling almost $350,000. Kuhlman worked for the Palm Springs Unified School District for 20 years, police say for 16 of those years she was stealing money from the students she was supposed to be helping.
“It truly only impacts the kids in a negative way essentially so that’s a sad thing to think about,” says Brian Murray, PSUSD’s assistant superintendent for business services, adding the money she pocketed was meant for the United Student Body account, “from football games, to dances to fundraisers that are held from all over the clubs throughout the school the money would go through her and she would make sure it gets deposited and she would make sure that it goes where it needs to go.”
He says a firm hired to do yearly audits discovered the money wasn’t going where it needed to go because the funds in the account did not match the bank statements, “So we began to ask questions as to where the discrepancy might exist and then shortly thereafter that’s when our employee submitted her letter of resignation along with essentially a confession as to what had happened.”
He says Kuhlman was a trusted employee who had been recognized for her excellent work. Now they have put systems in place to double check auditing, “We saw where we were loose in our oversight and our responsibility so unfortunately it took this to tighten up some things.”
And while they recognize the failures, they know there’s some things they can’t go back and fix.
“For those students that attended Desert Hot Springs High School the last 16 years that doesn’t mean a lot to them right now unfortunately however we’re hoping moving forward that it will never happen again,” says Murray.
He says the district has filed a claim with their insurance company to get the stolen money back. And in the meantime have loaned money to the clubs out the funds.
Kuhlman is due back in court to enter a plea on September 26, 2018.