Waitsburg school believes it's been scammed

WAITSBURG, Wash. -- School officials in Waitsburg say a fundraising company took them for a ride, scamming their students out of hard earned incentives. It's the principle of the matter, said the superintendent, having to look her little kids in the eye and say an adult told a lie.

"He kept asking 'when are we getting our prizes, how come it didn't come with the cookie dough,'" recounted Nicole Wood. Telling a second grader his prized hula hoop isn't coming, hits a new low said Wood.

"It was really heart breaking," said Wood. Heartbreaking compounded because that's what Waitsburg Elementary teachers had to do 55 times over.

"That's why they go out and sell, is because they're looking for some of the personal rewards," said Superintendent Carol Clarke.

Every year kids at Waitsburg sell cookie dough, or pizzas and the money goes in a fund for special projects like a visit from 'Science on Wheels' or a trip to a museum. The only difference this year was the company, Bolt Fundraising.

"We had no reason to believe there would be an issue," said Clarke.

The dough came quickly, said Clarke, on the heels - compliments from parents and grandparents about the quality. The only thing that didn't come were the prizes.

"They said 'oh yeah they're on the way, they're on the way," she said. Clarke said she emailed them several times and called only to hear nothing until she threatened legal action.

"I got a call in 20 seconds of that email being sent, 'oh yeah we're going to take care of it' and this is in December."

A deadline of January 7th, then the 24th both came and went, she said, and then like a kick to the teeth came an invoice.

"We had been billed for half of the cost of the incentives," she said. The school was out $800 and Clarke said the teachers were out of options. "We as a staff said we need to honor the students," she said.

They purchased similar items using money the students helped raise, which Wood said "kind of defeats the purpose of a fundraiser."

The entire ordeal has been frustrating for parents and staff, but rewarding the kids was must-do they all said.

"It comes out of the principle of the matter, what are we trying to teach our students," said Clarke.

Not 20 minutes after I called Zeman, listed as the owner for Bolt Fundraising, for a comment, did Carol Clarke get this email:

"I am very sorry that the prizes are running late. We sincerely apologize for the delay and any inconvenience this may have caused you and the school . The prizes will be delivered to your school no latter [sp] than March 15th. I hope everyone enjoyed the cookie dough! Thanks for your time and patience. I hope Jeff is enjoying the HUDL software and his offseason.

Thank you,
Otto Zeman"

Clarke told KEPR after she received the email that it's too little, too late. She said the thousand dollars on replacement prizes had already been spent by teachers and administrators and are getting doled out at school on Wednesday.

She did send Zeman an email back, asking them to cover their expenses. We'll let you know if that happens.