An Indiana school superintendent has been charged with fraud for using her insurance to obtain medical treatment for a student.
Casey Smitherman, who heads Elmwood Community Schools outside Indianapolis, has been charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor in an insurance fraud case stemming from an incident in which she took a sick student to an urgent care facility and used her son's name to obtain treatment.
"I am committed to this community and our students and I regret if this action has undermined your trust in me," Smitherman said in a statement released by her attorney.
Smitherman said she became worried about the 15-year-old student when he missed school on Jan. 9, according to court documents, the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.
"After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat," Smitherman said in the statement. "As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic."
She acknowledged taking the teen to St. Vincent Immediate Care and getting a prescription for an antibiotic in her son's name.
"I know this action was wrong," Smitherman said. "In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health."
The bill was $233, according to court documents.
Smitherman told police she and her husband had previously helped the boy by buying him clothes, Christmas gifts and food, the court papers said. The student lives with an elderly family who doesn't have a car and has limited resources.
The superintendent said she didn't notify children's services authorities because she feared the boy would be placed in foster care, according to the documents.
"The child was very sick and she was just trying to get him medicine," said the woman's attorney, Bryan Williams. "She knew it was probably a mistake. But at the same time she really didn’t know what else to do," he told the paper.
Smitherman was booked Wednesday into the Madison County Jail and freed on $5,000 bail.
Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said Smitherman was trying to help but used the wrong method.
"The other side of it is you have a school superintendent who is demonstrating through her actions that its OK to be dishonest and falsify your name," Cummings told the paper. "That was more troubling. I think she realizes that."
The prosecutor said his office has offered Smitherman a diversion program to avoid criminal conviction and she has accepted it. If she completes the program and avoids arrest for a year, Cummings will dismiss the charges, he said.
School board President Brent Kane issued a statement supporting the official.
"She made an unfortunate mistake, but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare," Kane said. "We know she understands what she did was wrong, but she continues to have our support."