The Williamson County Sheriff's Office has arrested a Thompson's Station woman on charges of stealing thousands from the Hillsboro School Parent Teacher Organization.
Billie Sue Barker, 44, was arrested Friday and is being charged with theft of more than $10,000. Her bond is set at $50,000.
Barker was the treasurer of the elementary and middle school PTO for the past year. More than $20,000 is believed to be missing from the PTO's account at a local bank. A Williamson County School District internal auditor is assisting to determine the actual amount, officials said.
The money was slated for the purchase of laptops for students at the kindergarten through eighth-grade school, located near Leiper's Fork. The discovery of the missing money was made last week when a PTO check intended to purchase 23 laptops bounced at a local bank.
"It's not right to steal money from kids," said Jennifer Smith, PTO president-elect, who said much of the money was raised during the school's Barnaroo Fall Fest. "We have safeguards in place, and (this person) circumvented every one of them."
Unfortunately, the temptation to steal is real, and it happens more than people want to believe, said Jim Wilson, a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner. His Bellevue firm assisted in the case of a woman who stole $150,000 from an elementary school's parent-teacher association in Metro Nashville Public Schools.
In that case, Julie Buchanan was convicted in 2007 for taking money from the Granbery Elementary School PTA fund meant for a student at the school who was dying of cancer.
Schools are often a target because there are no controls in place, Wilson says.
"Here's the money. It's very tempting to go get a check and write it out," he adds. "There are a lot of tricks to the trade; they seem to be multifarious. It comes out quite often that schools, churches and the elderly — where someone puts their trust in someone, and they take liberties."
If there is a silver lining to the situation, Superintendent Mike Looney says insurance may help the the parent organization recover some of the mon