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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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