A secretary at the Oak Bluffs School has been charged with embezzling more than $15,000 from a school account by forging the principal’s name on several checks and then keeping the money.
Susan T. Peters, 59, of Oak Bluffs, was summonsed last week on charges of larceny by a single scheme over $250, forgery of checks, uttering false checks and larceny over $250.
Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James Weiss said yesterday Ms. Peters has been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an investigation by Oak Bluffs police and school officials.
According to the Oak Bluffs police report, assistant principal Carlin Hart first informed Sgt. Michael Marchand and Det. Nicholas Curelli on August 20 that a school account had been overdrawn. Mr. Hart told police a number of unauthorized checks had been forged with the signature of principal Laury Binney and made out either to cash or to Ms. Peters.
Mr. Binney is currently on a one-year sabbatical.
When police interviewed Ms. Peters, they said, she admitted to forging at least 11 checks and keeping the money for herself. She said she had forged other checks that had not yet been posted to the bank and admitted to stealing in excess of $15,000, the report states.
Ms. Peters has worked for the school for 14 years. She started in the cafeteria and most recently worked in the principal’s office.
Mr. Weiss said the account is called the PTO account, although there is no connection with the parent teacher organization. The account is under the control of the school principal and is funded mainly by donations. Among other things, it is used to help students who cannot afford field trips.
The account is not part of the regular school district budget, and no taxpayer dollars were involved, Mr. Weiss said.
Mr. Weiss said steps will be taken to prevent unauthorized withdrawals from school accounts in the future. “We want to find out what went wrong and take the necessary steps to make sure this won’t happen again,” he said.
Ms. Peters is scheduled to appear in Edgartown district court on Sept. 24.