Another local teachers union leader suspected of embezzling funds

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LAKESIDE, Mont. – You’d think they would have learned by now.

money-steelingNearly every week it seems another teachers union official is being investigated for improper (usually personal) use of union dues money.

That appears to be the situation in Lakeside, Montana, where an elementary school secretary and union treasurer resigned last week while under investigation for embezzling from her union and school district, DailyInterlake.com reports.

The school board accepted Sandy Hawkes’ resignation June 5, and Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan, who is prosecuting the case, said charges are expected to be filed soon, according to the news site.

Hawkes was a secretary at Lakeside Elementary School for six years, and now stands accused of taking as much as $10,000 from the local union’s checking account. School officials suspect she’s also responsible for money missing from a December basketball tournament and a “Quarters for Critters” fundraiser, the Daily Interlake reports.

“We don’t have a full figure yet, but it is in the thousands,” Superintendent Paul Jenkins said of the missing money. “We have a lot of unanswered questions.”

Jenkins said Hawkes admitted to taking $160 from a yearbook fund, and the district is reviewing its policies to prevent future theft.

“We have reviewed practices to make sure we’re doing everything correctly,” he told the Daily Interlake. “We’re going to look at it even more closely. Obviously there are a couple of holes there that we have to close.”

One might expect local teachers unions to do the same. There have been several recent instances of local union officials helping themselves to funds, including the recent case of a former Albany, New York union president stealing nearly $1 million to help support a gambling habit.

Unions seem to put a lot of trust in the people at the top, and some of those people can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar.

It’s a shame union dues payers are again forced to watch as their hard-earned money is squandered by their supposed leaders. This pattern of embezzlement will probably continue until the rank and file demand better, but if they haven’t learned their lesson by now we doubt they ever will.

By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org

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