An Indiana school superintendent is facing multiple felony charges after admitting to having used her own medical insurance to help one of her sick students.
Casey Smitherman of Elwood Community Schools in Elwood, In. was charged with insurance fraud, identity deception and official misconduct on Tuesday, according to court records, and faced with a warrant for her arrest. She is now out on bail and reportedly entering a diversion program that would allow those charges to be dropped contingent on her ability to avoid further arrests this year.
Smitherman didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. However, in a statement to WXIN she explained that the charges resulted from concern she had for a student who didn’t show up to school on Jan. 9. The statement read in part:
Recently, I was given notice one of our students was not at school. I went to his home to check on him, and he told me that he had not felt well enough to come to school. After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat. As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic.
After one clinic refused to give the boy necessary treatment, I took him to a different clinic and told them he was my son. I knew he did not have insurance, and I wanted to do all I could to help him get well. I know this action was wrong. In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health.
According to WXIN, Smitherman took the 15-year-old to a local MedCheck, where he was provided an amoxicillin prescription under the superintendent’s son’s name. After the prescription was filled at a CVS, the boy reportedly tore the labels off of the bottle because he knew “to have a prescription in his possession with a different name is bad.”
Smitherman reportedly had a history with the student, admitting to police that she’s bought clothes for him and helped to clean his house in the past. In this most recent instance, she didn’t contact the Department of Child Services about the lack of medical care provided by his guardian for fear that he’d be placed in foster care.
Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings has yet to respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, but told WXIN that Smitherman had good intentions when it came to assisting a struggling student. However, she didn’t go about it in the right way.
“I understand it was her desire to help a young man that was in bad shape,” he told the outlet, “but probably not the best example to set for young people to assume other identities and make false statements.”
Still, the Elwood school board is standing behind the superintendent, who continues to hold her administrative position.
“Dr. Smitherman has tirelessly worked for the best interests of all students in Elwood Community Schools since she was hired. She made an unfortunate mistake, but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare,” a statement from the school board to WXIN reads. “We know she understands what she did was wrong, but she continues to have our support.”