As school districts struggle with massive budget cuts in a bad economy, a former principal in the Kyrene Elementary School District pleaded guilty Friday to stealing and misusing more than $34,000 donated to two schools where she worked.
Janet Thor, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of theft and one count of misuse of funds in Maricopa County Superior Court, according to information from Attorney General Terry Goddard’s office.
During her stint at Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary between July 2004 and July 2007, Thor took more than $18,000 that was donated from parents, business organizations and the school’s Parent Teacher Organization and used it for her own expenses. Then, as principal of Kyrene del Cielo, she also was accused of taking more than $15,000 that was donated to benefit the school, according to Goddard’s office.
At first Thor disputed the allegations, but she resigned from the district on April 29, 2009, after she was informed that the Arizona Board of Education intended to file a complaint against her teaching certificate.
According to a plea agreement, Thor will be placed on supervised probation in addition to any jail time she could receive.
In November 2009, the state Board of Education’s investigative unit accepted Thor’s surrender of her teaching certification.
Thor has paid full restitution to the schools, and will be sentenced by Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner James Rummage on Oct. 18.
In a statement, Goddard said, “This is a tragedy for a trusted principal to steal money donated to her schools. The one positive note is that those funds have now been fully repaid by the defendant.”