A former Lithonia High School bookkeeper has been charged with stealing from the school.
Stephine Barkley, 38, of McDonough, was arrested on Aug. 27 by DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputies and charged with theft by taking. A $2,500 bond for her release was posted on Aug. 28.
In a statement to The Champion, Donald Smith, the school district’s public safety director, said, “A recent internal investigation by the school district discovered missing funds from accounts at Lithonia High School.
“Based on our investigation, the bookkeeper responsible for the accounts was terminated and arrested,” Smith stated. “The DeKalb District Attorney’s Office was notified and the results of our investigation were turned over to Robert James, the DeKalb County district attorney, for prosecution.”
The missing funds came to light when school club sponsors complained to the principal that their account balances were incorrect.
Additionally, Varsity Spirit Fashions, a vendor for cheerleader uniforms, emailed school officials about a $9,700 past due balance from the 2013-14 school year. The cheerleader account only had $354 in it, according to a statement obtained by The Champion.
Because of the outstanding balance, cheerleaders could not order new uniforms for the current school year, according to a letter from the vendor, which threatened to take the matter to the school district level.
Barkley confessed in a written statement to a school district investigator.
In the statement, obtained by The Champion in response to an Open Records Request, Barkley’s listed duties included payroll, purchasing, school auditing and deposits. She also worked as the cheerleading sponsor for the 2013-14 academic year.
In the Aug. 21 affidavit, Barkley stated that she began having “some financial difficulties at home.”
She took school deposits to pay her rent and children’s daycare bills, she stated.
“I think I may have taken approximately $15,000, more or less; however, I really don’t know how much I took over time,” Barkley stated.
The former bookkeeper said she tried to “put some of the money back around December or January,” but “could not put enough money back…to cover all the money I had taken.”
Barkley stated that she “recently secured a second job to help make ends meet and to help me pay back some of the funds.”
“I am willing to pay back all of the monies that I took…and I am sorry for [any] harm I have [caused] anyone at the school district,” Barkley stated.
Barkley had been with the school district since November 2007, working first at Lakeside High and then moving to Lithonia High School.
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