Woman accused of taking school's money

Money intended for field trips, other activities
May. 10, 2013 @ 08:25 AM

A former Collettsville School secretary is accused of stealing more than $40,000 in school funds over a two-year period.

Emily Yvonne Hawkins, 38, was arrested Wednesday by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office and charged with 10 counts of embezzlement.

The arrest stems from an investigation that began with a tip called in to school administrators that Hawkins, who managed the school’s financial books, was taking money raised by the school. After an internal audit by the school system’s finance department, it was determined enough money was missing to call in the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, said Caldwell County Schools Superintendent Steve Stone.

Hawkins was employed at Collettsville School as lead secretary on July 26, 2010, until she was fired on March 26, 2012, the date the sheriff's office began its investigation.

The exact amount taken is still being calculated. Stone said the money was raised by the school through fundraisers, and food and drink machines, and was intended to pay for field trips and other activities. The school system is filing an insurance claim, and will use money from the Education Foundation and other sources to replace the missing money.

The incident has forced school officials to consider taking additional measures in hiring employees handling money. Currently, school employees undergo a background check. Hawkins’ background was clean, Stone said. The school system may start conducting credit checks.

“We need to develop another layer of protection in hiring employees handling money,” Stone said. “This is a horrible way to learn from this.”

Stone credits the sheriff’s office for conducting a thorough investigation.

“Our law enforcement here is phenomenal,” Stone said. “When we called them, they were here in five minutes and kept us involved in the process. That was a silver lining for us.”

Hawkins’ secured bond was set at $100,000.