Discarded tickets sold for school fundraiser

Maui Waena principal: Incident was definitely not a scam; all tickets sold will be honored

A few hundred tickets with incorrect information were taken by a handful of Maui Waena Intermediate School students and sold to the public last week. This photo shows the incorrect tickets. Maui Waena Intermediate School photo

Six Maui Waena Intermediate School students “learned life lessons” last week after getting caught taking and selling at least $400 of discarded fundraiser tickets to the public, the school’s principal said Tuesday.

The 8th-grade students grabbed a few hundred tickets from a classroom during school Wednesday or Thursday and began selling them with the help of some 7th-graders, Principal Jacquelyn McCandless said. She said 48,000 tickets were printed for a schoolwide fundraiser this month, but they were set to be destroyed and replaced due to an incorrect pickup time on them.

At least 15 people contacted the school about purchasing the tickets, McCandless said. She said she personally spoke to each one and thanked them for their support and notifying the school.

She did not know exactly how many bad tickets were sold but $400 in cash was recovered from the students.

“This was a learning experience,” McCandless said. “We are an educational institution first and foremost, and the most important thing is to educate our children, not just punish. It’s very important that our students learn from this and we as a school also learned we need to take better security measures when we’re dealing with fundraisers and things like this.”

The level of involvement of each student differed. Some students did not sell any tickets and at least one student was unaware that the tickets were taken without permission, McCandless said.

She emphasized that the incident was “definitely not a scam” and that all tickets sold will be honored.

The fundraiser includes four food items for $7.50 each: Vienna cinnamon bread, four hot dog manapuas, banana macnut loaf cake and chocolate chip cookies. Pickup is set for early next month and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the school.

The bad tickets show a “10 a.m. – 2 p.m.” pick-up time.

Money raised will go toward a cover for the school’s basketball court and field trips. She has not received an estimate for the court covering but believes it is “well over a $100,000.”

“We want a very durable one, but they’re expensive,” she said. “It’s a lofty goal.”

McCandless said she became aware of the missing tickets at 3:30 p.m. Thursday when a woman called the office. The woman said she bought two tickets from a student wearing a school shirt, but felt suspicious because the student had a “stack of tickets.”

An automated message was sent out to parents’ phones immediately after the call to advise them of the bad tickets and to retrieve the tickets and any money collected from their child, McCandless said. She said one boy and his parents brought the tickets and money “first thing Friday morning,” not knowing about the issue.

“The parents were very concerned about the situation and just through investigation the young man didn’t know they were stolen because he made the parents aware of the tickets, and as soon as he came home from fundraising he gave them the money,” she said.

The other students involved were eventually identified by other students as well as home security footage from buyers, McCandless said. She said the students’ families have been contacted.

Police are aware of the situation, though they have not been involved in the investigation.

“At this point, I have not finalized consequences,” she said. “I’m still in the process of completing the investigation so nothing has been determined yet.”

McCandless said the school-wide fundraiser has gone through various iterations and has been held off and on since she arrived at the school in 2006. She stressed that the community’s support is key and hopes the incident does not leave a black eye on the school.

“Our students involved have learned life lessons,” she said. “They know right and wrong, and they know that temptations can happen. There are consequences to how it impacts our school and the reputation of our school and relationship with our community because we rely on them for so many things.”

Anyone who has bought one of the faulty tickets should call the school at 727-4200. They can be identified by the incorrect pick-up time.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.