Former Bismarck Asst. Principal Believes She Was Targeted
I recently sat down with former Wachter Middle School Assistant Principal Beth Jeide to get her side of the story.
A quick refresher, Beth Jeide, former Assistant Principal at Wachter Middle School, was named a suspect in over $2,500 in cash deposits that went missing this school year.
I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Ms. Jeide and during this, she paints a much different picture. The former Assistant Principal believes she was retaliated against by school officials for being a whistle-blower.
Ms. Jeide claims in the 19 years she worked at Wachter she has never had a key to the master key box where a third key was found or the locked cabinet where the money is supposed to be locked up.
Over the past two years, Ms. Jeide reported and provided evidence of cash deposits going missing as well as the misuse of the school credit card to Principal Lee Ziegler.
Because Mr. Ziegler would not investigate any of Ms.Jeide's reports, during the 2021-2022 school year, she contacted BPS head of accounting, Will Smith, in an attempt to establish a checks-and-balance system for cash coming into Wachter.
In August of 2022, after some adult items were ordered through Amazon and addressed to Middle School, Ms. Jeide took her concerns to Superintendent Jason Hornbaucher. At this time she reported her continued concerns about miss management of money, misuse of school funds, and embezzlement.
She indicated to Superintendent Hornbacuher that she believed that the school has had over $100,000 in cash deposits stolen over the past 5 years. Ms. Jeide claims she has emails to and from Mr. Hornbaucher verifying that this was reported.
Ms. Jeide stated that although Mr. Ziegler refused to investigate any of her reports, she requested to be proactive to prevent additional funds from going missing and requested to install cameras in the front office area where the money is located at.
Her requests were never honored and money continued to go missing. According to Ms. Jeide "There has never been a checks and balance for the last 19 years and money will get left out on counters and in drawers." In November, a staff member turned in $18,000 of fundraising money to be deposited into their account. The money was left in the vault for almost three weeks.”
The school board recently voted not to renew Jeide's contract for the 2023-2024 school year.
Ms. Jeide also told me she believed the school credit card was used numerous times for adult entertainment (sex swings and lingerie), and that somebody had their Amazon account attached to the credit card. There were other non-school purchases that would show up from time to time. Somehow, there was no recourse or investigation into this according to Jeide.
Since all of this has gone down, Principal Ziegler announced his retirement after this school year. A secretary of the school also left her job during this past school year, and Superintendent Jason Hornbacher announced he was stepping down as well.
It was also announced recently that the Bismarck School District is facing a public request audit. Over 5,700 signatures were received and only 4,600 were needed. That audit will begin this fall.
Miss Jeide believes this audit will prove her theory of over $100,000 dollars being embezzled from Wachter Middle School alone.
Despite being accused of taking the money, Ms. Jeide was never charged with a crime. According to Ms. Jeide, she was offered a choice to resign and none of this ever would've gotten out. Ms. Jeide chose to go through a non-renewal hearing so that the truth would come out and the community has a right to know where their taxpayer's money is going.
Ms. Jeide stated that she was targeted by her bosses because of the lack of accountability on their part and the fear that their own jobs could have been in jeopardy. Ms. Jeide is confident that in the fall when the State of ND audits BPS, her allegations of years of embezzlement and miss use of school funds will be proven.
I asked her what was next for her and she told me she truly didn't know. She loved her job at Wachter Middle School, her colleagues, and most of all the students.
She has filed an official complaint with the Department of Labor and the EOC. She is also in the process of seeking legal counsel.