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West Hartford Athletic Director Warns Businesses about Bogus Fundraisers

A outside company has been soliciting funds on behalf of West Hartford Public Schools athletics, but the athletic director said there is no such sanctioned fundraiser.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Athletic Director Jason Siegal is warning businesses about a company that appears to be fraudulently soliciting donations on behalf of West Hartford Public Schools athletics.

Siegal said that a West Hartford resident, who is also a business owner in town, was recently contacted about donating to Conard athletics. In exchange for their donation, the company would have an ad or logo on a t-shirt, plastic cup, and/or a banner to be placed on school grounds.

“We’re not doing anything like that,” Siegal said. “We don’t operate that way.”

One business owner was contacted for a similar unsanctioned fundraiser for Conard athletics last year, and donated money. That same business got another request this year, but brought it to Siegal’s attention.

Siegal said he has informed Conard’s school resource officer, who is a member of the West Hartford Police Department. The matter is currently under investigation.

“We don’t want our businesses to be duped out of funds,” Siegal said.

Siegel sent a letter to coaches on Monday, and asked that they share it with team parents as well.

“Please know that I take seriously and scrutinize all fundraisers to make sure they are legitimate and meet the goals and expectations of West Hartford Public Schools (Athletics). By doing so, we maintain the trust and positive relationships we have with our families and business community, a partnership that is so necessary for a successful program,” Siegal wrote in the letter.

Siegal suggested that local businesses reach out to him if they receive a call or a solicitation about a fundraiser from an unfamiliar source. He must approve all team fundraisers, so he will immediately know if it’s legitimate. Because Siegal has office space at both Conard and Hall and travels between the schools, he said that the best way to reach him is through email at [email protected].

Most of the fundraising taking place at this point in the season is at local restaurants, where diners mention the name of the team and the restaurant donates a certain percentage of the meal. The Hall football team had been doing a fundraiser through Gameday Media, and that one is approved and legitimate, Siegal said.

The War Chief Booster Club, which supports athletics at Conard and Hall, is also soliciting funds and sponsors for its Fall Classic on Oct. 27, and that activity is sanctioned as well.

Once winter sports begin, there will be some new fundraisers, but Siegal said that he must approve all of them.

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