Former Grand Prairie ISD finance chief accused of $600K theft

DALLAS (AP) — A former chief financial officer of a Dallas-area school district has been charged with stealing more than $600,000 from a vault, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Carolyn Foster, 61, of Lewisville was arrested Monday after being indicted for federal program theft from the Grand Prairie Independent School District. The time frame was October 2014 to July 2015, according to a statement Tuesday from U.S. Attorney John Parker.

Two finance workers, both accountants, questioned the way cash funds were handled and uncovered the alleged theft the day after Foster left the district last year, according to a statement from the school district.

“She allegedly ordered this money be withdrawn from the bank ostensibly to use for cash settlements on nonexistent lawsuits and for special cash awards for teachers for school supplies,” according to Superintendent Susan Hull.

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The district has since developed new operating procedures for handling any cash in the district, Hull said, “to make sure that never again can a single person, even a high-ranking executive, on his or her own authority, gain access to money that belongs to our schools.”

Foster allegedly ordered the money be withdrawn from district bank accounts and delivered by armored truck to school administration offices, where she had access to the cash kept in a vault. She apparently was able to make a change in district financial procedures without notifying anyone, giving her the ability to access the money, the district’s statement said.

The new procedures now require at least two school district officials be involved in any order for cash, with a maximum $10,000 allowed to be withdrawn from the bank at any time.

Foster was employed as an independent contractor for International Leadership of Texas, in Richardson, where she was arrested. A statement Tuesday from International Leadership said Foster, who was working with software, was fired following her arrest.

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No attorney could immediately be located to speak for Foster, who pleaded not guilty Monday and was freed on bond. She faces a maximum 10-year prison term if convicted.