At least two parents of Rock Terrace School students have received notification from the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office that records from bank accounts under their children’s names have been subpoenaed for a grand jury investigation.
A Nov. 11 letter from the office to a parent said a grand jury subpoena “has been issued for bank account records maintained in the student’s name at Education Systems Federal Credit Union.”
The subpoena is part of the county state’s attorney’s office investigation into how Rock Terrace staff handled money students earned while in a work-study program that went into bank accounts at the credit union.
Montgomery County Public Schools and the state’s attorney’s office began investigating the school after parents raised allegations that staff misappropriated funds their children earned.
The Rockville school serves developmentally disabled students.
A summary of the school system’s initial investigation — which was attached to a July 18 letter to the school’s parents from Associate Superintendent of High Schools Christopher Garran — said the state’s attorney’s office would request account records from the credit union using subpoenas.
The Nov. 11 letter from the state’s attorney’s office said the account records will be obtained directly from the bank.
The subpoena — which was addressed to the credit union’s custodian of records and was attached to the Nov. 11 letter — asks for documents including:
• Signature cards and account applications.
• Monthly account statements.
• Canceled checks, returned items, debit memos, drafts and bank checks.
• Deposit tickets, deposited items, and credits made.
• Electronic funds transfers, wire transfers, automated teller machine transactions, and internet banking transactions.
• Correspondence, including telephone notes, letters, faxes and emails.
Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, would not confirm or deny any information about the case on Monday.
Grand jury investigations are secret, he said.
Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the county school system, said the school system asked the state’s attorney’s office to get involved so it could access bank records outside of the system’s jurisdiction.
Tofig said that, to his knowledge, the school system had not received a subpoena or notification of a subpoena related to the case.
The subpoena the parents received, which was issued on Nov. 8, directs the credit union’s custodian to appear before a grand jury on Dec. 12.
“This is a good sign, it’s a good step forward,” said Lyda Astrove, a Rockville lawyer and special-education advocate working with Rock Terrace parents.
The parents will not be able to attend the December grand jury session, she said.
“This is just the beginning,” she said. “It’s a good beginning.”
An initial investigation by the school system found the work-study program at Rock Terrace School was “poorly managed” and “money was inappropriately used,” according to Garran’s July 18 letter to parents.
Student bank account records at the school were found “incomplete,” the letter said.
However, the letter said, school staff had found no fraudulent activity.
Jim Shalleck — a former federal and state prosecutor who currently practices law in Montgomery Village — said the grand jury has investigative power the school system does not.
Shalleck is not involved in the investigation.
“When you have what could be a complicated financial case, you want to subpoena all of the relevant bank records and school records and any other records that are appropriate,” he said.
Shalleck said he thinks the state’s attorney’s office use of a grand jury investigation indicates that it is taking the situation “very seriously” and that there are a number of witnesses and documents the office wants to talk to and examine.
“Grand juries are often used to make sure that people appear as witnesses and documents are produced,” he said.