UPDATE (May 28, 2019)-- Smitherman's teaching license was suspended for 90 days.
ELWOOD, Ind. – The superintendent of Elwood Community Schools resigned Friday, a little more than a week after it was revealed she used her own insurance to pay for a student’s medical treatment and filled a prescription for him in her son’s name.
As a result of these actions, Casey Smitherman was charged with official misconduct, insurance fraud, insurance application fraud and identity deception.
The state’s Department of Education has also opened a file for consideration of action on Smitherman’s educator license.
Smitherman’s resignation was announced at a school board meeting, during which the accusations against her were to be discussed in an executive session beforehand. In a statement issued to CBS4, she said she’s embarrassed by what she called a “lapse in judgment.”
“I have dedicated my entire professional career to children and ensuring they have the best possible chance of success. My record of accomplishments clearly shows I have been successful in doing that. Unfortunately, my recent lapse in judgment has brought negative attention to the community and myself. I am very embarrassed for that, and I apologize to the board, the community and the teachers and students of Elwood Community Schools. I sincerely hope this single lapse in judgment does not tarnish all of the good work I’ve done for students over the span of my career. As most educators will attest, the board, community, teachers and students need to be in alignment for a school system to achieve its goals. I do not feel that alignment exists at this time nor could exist in the near future and therefore, effective 02/01/2019, I am resigning from my position as the Superintendent of Elwood Community Schools. I am confident the board will take the necessary steps to ensure the school system works through this period of change in the best possible way.”
According to court documents, the 15-year-old student didn’t come to school on Jan. 9 because he had a sore throat. Smitherman picked him up and took him to the med check in Elwood so a doctor could examine him. However, she signed the student in under her son’s name and also had a prescription for Amoxicillin filled at CVS under her son’s name.
The teen tore the name off the bottle’s label because he “knew it was wrong” and “to have a prescription in his possession with a different name is bad,” court documents said.
Police received a tip about the situation and followed up with the teen’s guardian on Jan. 16. A day later, Smitherman talked to Elwood police about the situation.
During her statement, she told police she realized the student wasn’t at school on Jan. 9 and was worried about him. In the past, she’s bought clothes for him and helped clean his house, according to court documents. She said she didn’t contact the Department of Child Services because she feared the teen would be placed in foster care.
She admitted taking him to the med check and signing him in under her son’s name. She also said she’d taken him to CVS to get a prescription; she said she had the prescription filled under her son’s name. She dropped the boy off at home with the prescription and said she didn’t realized he’d torn the name off the bottle.
Medical records obtained by subpoena showed a prescription was filled under her son’s name on Jan. 9. The total claim was $233, according to court documents. Police contacted the Department of Child Services to advise them that “financial help may be needed” for the teen.
“Nothing at home from her was needed and it was inappropriate,” Audra Rich, who says she’s close to the teen’s family, said.
“It’s not true how the story first came out,” Rich said. “He didn’t need her to come get him and take him to the doctor.”
Rich said she was happy with the outcome of the meeting.
Others at the meeting expressed the same reaction. The president of the teacher’s association admitted tensions had already been building before this moment.
“I’m happy with the outcome to help us start focusing on the educational issues of Elwood, the positive things to move forward,” Jim Savage, president of the Elwood Classroom Teacher’s Association, said.
Following Smitherman’s arrest, some said they believed Smitherman’s intentions were good though her actions were wrong. The case garnered national attention with many offering support.
The school board voted in Joe Brown, the district’s assistant superintendent, to serve as interim superintendent.