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State sues ex-school chief, seeks $615,000

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The former superintendent of a small southern Indiana school system owes the district more than $615,000 in public money that he misappropriated, according to a lawsuit filed by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office.

Marion “Al” Chapman was fired as superintendent of Cannelton City School Corp. in December 2011, after more than six years in the position. The State Board of Accounts this month released an audit that revealed misappropriation including:
-- $206,688.27 Chapman authorized payments to himself beyond his contract through payroll or annuities;
-- $333,333.33 gifted to the school as a trust intended to fund high school improvements but instead was depleted to pay general fund operating expenses;
-- $50,185.64 in attorney fees stemming from Chapman’s discontinuation of paying taxes;
-- $9,000 in unallowed prepaid travel allowances, and;
-- $1,241 in penalties, late fees and charges the schools accrued under Chapman’s leadership.

Chapman also is asked to pay the $15,157.89 cost of the audit in the civil suit filed in Perry Circuit Court.

The lawsuit also asks for an injunction to freeze Chapman’s assets, including bank and retirement accounts and vehicles. Perry Circuit Judge Lucy Goffinet on Friday signed a temporary restraining order and scheduled a hearing for Aug. 30 on the state’s motion for a preliminary injunction, a statement from the AG’s office said.

“The amount that the audit found misappropriated is simply shocking even without the misuse of a trust fund gift worth one-third of a million dollars; but what’s truly disheartening is that a top school official – a person to whom teachers, students and parents ought to look to for leadership – has drained public school funds intended for children’s education in order to overpay himself. This is a betrayal of the public trust, and my office will use all our legal tools to make this individual reimburse the school system,” Zoeller said in a statement.

The lawsuit also names as a defendant Indiana Insurance Company, which carried a $1 million errors and omissions policy on Chapman. The suit seeks to collect on the policy to reimburse the school system for the loss.

With 240 students enrolled last year, Cannelton City Schools is the second-smallest non-charter public K-12 school system in the state, according to Indiana Department of Education data.

 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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