Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Fake Student Teacher: Brazen Beyond Words

This story out of California is one of the stangest things that I've read in a long time:
A young woman posing as a college student needing observation hours for a teaching credential apparently pulled off a scam at an East Bay elementary school, making off with teachers' wallets and credit cards. Now the district is warning others about the scam.

A woman talked her way into the kindergarten classroom last Friday afternoon. She worked with kids, befriended teachers and eventually disappeared, as did the wallets of two teachers.

Terry Koehne, San Ramon Valley Unified School District: "She came to the school very professionally dressed, young woman in her twenties who said that she was with a teaching credential program at San Jose State University wanting to do some observation hours. We get requests like that all the time."

The principal escorted the woman who identified herself as Lakeasha Johnson, down to the kindergarten classroom. According to the district, she did a great job with the kids. She stayed after school to chat with the teachers. She was only left alone when the teachers went to the restroom. When one teacher got home, she discovered her credit cards were gone.

Sgt. Ron Bradley, Danville Police Dept.: "She apparently talked to some of the other staff members at the school and discovered that a second teacher, who had also left her classroom, found that her wallet also missing."

Calls to credit card companies revealed that thousands of dollars in charges were posted to the two teachers' accounts within an hour of the woman leaving the school.

Seanne Krogman, mother: "How? Why? How can someone come on our campus just like that under false pretense and present themselves in a classroom with our kids? It is mind boggling to me that this could happen."

Parents are up in arms.

Terri Lee, mother: "What if it's a pedophile? What if she was armed? It's our children's safety, it's our teachers' safety."

The school district says they don't have the resources to do background checks on every volunteer. Fingerprinting is done only if the person is to be hired or will spend extended amounts of time on campus. The principal sent home letters saying, "we are obviously very concerned that this theft occurred at Montclair and we are currently reviewing our policies regarding volunteers."
In our district here in California's "Imperial" Valley, no one, not even parent volunteers, are permitted to work on campus before passing a state-approved FBI background check.
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