Los Banos school district weighs options in theft

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comMay 13, 2013 

Los Banos Unified School District officials are deciding whether to ask the criminal justice system to prosecute a teacher accused of stealing nearly $2,500 in prom funds, Superintendent Steve Tietjen said.

Tietjen said Los Banos High School special education teacher and junior class adviser Jillian Ketcher resigned May 1 after reportedly admitting to taking $2,480 collected from the sale of junior prom tickets.

Ketcher, as junior class adviser, was in charge of overseeing the prom.

"On April 25 it was noticed (by the financial secretary) that she did not have all the funds for the tickets. That was our first indicator that something was wrong," Tietjen said.

He said Ketcher returned $1,250 of the prom money the next day. Ketcher was then placed on administrative leave and the district began an in-house investigation, Tietjen said.

The district reviewed its cash-handling procedures and made sure the junior prom occurred without interruption on April 27.

Tietjen said junior prom money is spent on that year's event and goes toward the next year's senior activities. He said when Ketcher resigned she agreed to pay restitution and asked that the remainder of her salary go toward paying the money back. Tietjen said that's not possible.

Tietjen said the school district has contacted the police, but it is his understanding that if Ketcher pays the money back it becomes a civil matter rather than a criminal one. Tietjen said he is unsure how Ketcher will pay the money back now that she's no longer working for the district.

Plans to discuss whether to pursue criminal charges were scheduled as a closed session item at Thursday night's school board meeting. The outcome was determined after press time.

Tietjen said he finds the entire matter to be sad.

"It's an unfortunate circumstance when you have an individual trusted to handle something for the students that betrays (that trust)," Tietjen said.

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