Indiana school chief who used her insurance to help sick student quits, cites "lapse in judgment"

/ CBS/AP

School superintendent on insurance fraud

Elwood, Ind. — A central Indiana school superintendent has resigned after being charged with using her insurance to help a sick student receive treatment. The board of the Elwood Community Schools accepted Casey Smitherman's resignation without comment at a meeting Friday evening.

In a resignation statement issued to CBS affiliate WTTV, Smitherman 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."

Saying she would resign effective Feb 1, Smitherman said: "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."

Deputy Superintendent Joe Brown was named interim superintendent.

The board said last week Smitherman had its support.

Smitherman was charged Jan. 15 with insurance fraud, identity deception, and official misconduct. She said she would enter a diversion program allowing dismissal of the charges if she avoids further arrests in the coming year.

Smitherman said she recently went to the home of a student who had missed school and saw he had symptoms of strep throat. After one clinic refused to treat him, she took him to another and said he was her son.

"It's hard not to want to help all of our kids," Smitherman told CBS News.

In her school district, 78 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches, so groups of teachers have identified struggling students to help with food, clothing and mentoring.

Smitherman told the police what she'd done and turned herself in. The police alerted prosecutor Rodney Cummings.

"I think there have to be some consequences, but they shouldn't be career jeopardizing. I think there's a way to take care of that without destroying her career, because her motives were good," Cummings said.

First published on February 4, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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