Casey Smitherman, a school superintendent in Elwood, Ind., has been arrested for a crime committed by the nation’s health care system.
Smitherman, 48, was charged with felony insurance application fraud, felony identity deception, felony official misconduct and Class A misdemeanor insurance fraud when she turned herself in this week.
Her crime? She was worried about a student who didn’t show up for school. So she went to his house.
“After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat. As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic,” she said.
Most of the students in her district are poor.
She took him to a health clinic which refused to treat him because he is younger than 18 and she isn’t the guardian.
So she went to another clinic, signed him in under her son’s name, using her health insurance for the appointment and the antibiotics she purchased for him.
That cost the insurance company $233, the Herald Bulletin of Anderson, Ind., reported.
She said she didn’t call child protective services because she didn’t want the boy put into the foster care system.
She released this statement:
Recently, I was given notice one of our students was not at school. I went to his home to check on him, and he told me that he had not felt well enough to come to school. After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat. As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic.
After one clinic refused to give the boy necessary treatment, I took him to a different clinic and told them he was my son. I knew he did not have insurance, and I wanted to do all I could to help him get well. I know this action was wrong. In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health.
I have been charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor, and I have cooperated with authorities every step of the way. I turned myself in to the Elwood police this afternoon and was immediately released on bail. It is my understanding the prosecutor has agreed to a diversion program and that should be finalized yet this afternoon.
The Elwood community has been welcoming since I started this position, and I am so grateful for your support. I am committed to this community and our students, and I regret if this action has undermined your trust in me. From the beginning, my ultimate goal has been to provide the best environment for Elwood students’ growth physically, mentally and academically, and I remain focused on that purpose.
School board president Brent Kane has issued a statement of support below, for which I am also grateful. I am continuing to work with appropriate authorities as necessary and want to be transparent about my work with the Elwood community.
Prosecutors worked out a deal with her. She’ll enter a diversion program for first-time offenders, though it remains to be seen how she’ll divert compassion in the future.
Showing its own spine, the local school board stuck by her. So did the community.
“She made an unfortunate mistake, but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare. We know she understands what she did was wrong, but she continues to have our support,” the head of the school board said.