MIDLOTHIAN (CBSDFW.COM) – A leader with a North Texas elementary school association has been arrested and charged with theft. Her crime? Stealing thousands of dollars from the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).
Parents are outraged that Christie Norwood, treasurer of the PTO at T.E. Baxter Elementary School in Midlothian, is suspected of stealing more than $24,000 from the organization composed of parents, teachers and staff that benefit students and campuses.
It was just before Halloween 2012 when five Baxter PTO board members went to Midlothian police. The group said an administrator with the Midlothian ISD had alerted them the PTO account was overdrawn and they thought Norwood was responsible, because she was the only person with access to the account.
After giving police receipts and information from a certified public accountant authorities took action. “We were advised of possible theft of the parent/teacher organization and we were investigating it,” explained Sgt. Tim Scott, with the Midlothian Police Department. “After the investigation it was found that there was probable cause for the [arrest] warrant. A warrant was issued for Theft, $20,000 to $100,000.”
PTO board members told police Norwood had been treasurer for the past year and a half and never allowed leaders access to bank records during her tenure.
According to the arrest warrant, Norwood took cash and fraudulently used to PTO credit card, stealing a total of $24,182.22. Credit card records show charges for beer, groceries, clothes and even a stay at the WinStar World Casino RV Park in Oklahoma.
In addition to being PTO treasurer Norwood, 33, served as the team-mom to the Midlothian Panthers Football Team. The vice president of the Midlothian Youth Football League, Robert Cato, said he just wants to see justice. “In the end I would like to see that the kids at T.E. Baxter Elementary get what’s coming to them… all the money back. So that we can provide everything that our kids need.”
Cato said the stolen money was used for a number of things, including school activities and supplies. He said a portion of the funds were used for Baxter Elementary things, “Such as sweatshirts, pencils, so on and so forth, that the school would buy and students would turn around and purchase from the school to show their support. I understand that holiday presents are [also] purchased for the teachers.”
Officials with the Midlothian ISD issued a statement to CBS 11 News saying,
“Midlothian ISD appreciates parents who volunteer and support the booster clubs and Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO), which benefit Midlothian schools and students.
The MISD administration was informed of the on-going investigation and the matter being handled by local authorities regarding the T.E. Baxter Elementary PTO president. The district has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with both the local authorities and the PTO.
While these organizations support Midlothian ISD and its schools, no MISD funds are included in the booster/PTO financial transactions.”
Norwood was arrested on December 21 and released from the Midlothian Jail after posting $15,000 bond.
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