JCPS parent accused of stealing $22,500 from the PTA - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS parent accused of stealing $22,500 from the PTA

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's like taking money from her kids' classmates: a JCPS parent is accused of stealing from the PTA. Elizabeth Walmer appears to be the everyday PTA mom, but looks can be deceiving.

"Anytime money is being taken from kids, that is just heartbreaking," said Heather Wampler, president of the 15th District PTA.

Walmer was convicted in 2012 of theft by deception for passing $1,595 in bad checks, but Layne Elementary parents still elected her treasurer of the school's PTA. She is facing the same type of charge today, but police say much more money is missing.

"The suspect in this case has stolen, possibly, $22,500," said Louisville Metro Police Spokesman Dwight Mitchell.

"Sometimes when she was making cash deposits, she would take out funds for herself," Mitchell said. "She also had a debit card from the school where she was charging personal items. She also had some checks from the PTA that she wrote, actually, to her boyfriend."

PTA accounts are separate from JCPS and all the money comes from fundraisers and donations. It's typically used for end-of-school celebrations, but red flags went off when the account was overdrawn.

It's frustrating for parents like Amanda Hernandez.

"That's awful because a lot of our parents were really involved with our kids," Hernandez said. "You just kind of want to know: do these people do background checks? I'm really shaken up about it."

How far did the background check go?

"I can't comment on that," said Wampler. "I don't know, but I do know the principal has a background check." JCPS Spokesman Ben Jackey adds, " If a parent hasn't had a felony charge, we can't keep them from being a JCPS volunteer.  From our standpoint, we are looking at can a person supervise children. What a person does on a PTA board is separate from that."

Walmer pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The 15th district PTA, which represents all JCPS schools, is trying to prop up Layne Elementary's fledgling accounts, hoping to still pull together end-of-year celebrations.

"It was going to be used for field day, 5th grade promotion, and they were looking at having some other speakers come in this spring for the students," Wampler said.

Perhaps the lesson for this school is: trust and verify.

"It's very difficult because everyone is volunteers, and you want to think the best, but unfortunately, this is the first time, and what I hope the last," Wampler said.

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