ANDERSON, Ind. — A bookkeeper for the Anderson School District is accused of stealing almost a million dollars from the school system. To make matters worse, the money was intended for the school lunch program.
“It’s hard to understand the lack of accountability,” said Rodney Cummings, Madison County Prosecutor. “It’s hard for me to imagine that somebody would have not noticed what was happening.”
In 2006, Carla Burke was hired to maintain the financial records for the school lunch fund and extracurricular fund.
A report from the Indiana State Board of Accounts claims Burke stole money from the fund from 2013 to 2019. They say she cashed 312 checks in her name.
The money was supposed to go to vendors associated with the school’s lunch program.
“I assume that it was for lunches that were being provided for students at the school,” Cummings said. “‘We have a troubled school system in Anderson. I mean our finances are not good. We shut the wigwam down because we can’t support it. We had 23,000 kids in our school system, and we have 6,000 now. It’s a very financially strapped school system, and for something like this to happen it’s absolutely unbelievable.”
In a statement, the district says,
“Carla Burke, a former Food Service employee with the Anderson Community School Corporation (ACSC), orchestrated an elaborate scheme to steal money from the department’s School Lunch Fund Extra-Curricular Account. At the moment the theft was first uncovered, we immediately reported this to the proper authorities and took corrective action. This includes putting additional internal control measures in place and purchasing new financial software that will help prevent a situation like this from happening in the future. While Ms. Burke’s theft was significant, since it was done over several years, it did not cause any disruption in services to our students. ACSC takes theft of any kind very seriously. Which is why we will continue to fully cooperate with the Indiana State Board of Accounts (ISBA), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and other authorities throughout this ongoing process.”Brad Meadows, ACSC Director of District & Community Engagement
In an interview, Cummings said, “It’s a little disappointing. I have information that they have known about this for at least a couple of years, and never made contact with the police or our office. It’s hard to understand. It’s possible the FBI may be involved. I’m not aware of that.”
Cummings believes Burke retired in 2019. He says right now she has not been arrested.
The State Board of Accounts is requesting Burke pay back $1.1 million. The number makes up the sum of the money they say she stole, plus interest payments and the cost of the investigation from the State Board of Accounts.