With some Perrysburg Board of Education members saying they were angry, the school board voted unanimously in a special meeting today to fire Eric Whitson, an employee who has been criminally charged with stealing $80,000 from the district.
Mr. Whitson has been arraigned on theft charges and his case is pending trial in Wood County Common Pleas Court, but Perrysburg Superintendent said the district has enough evidence from an internal investigation to terminate his contract, regardless of the outcome of the court case.
Mr. Hosler told The Blade after the meeting that the district, from its investigation, thinks more than $80,000 was stolen. He couldn’t disclose more information. The district is working with the state auditor and Wood County prosecutor.
“We are not just disappointed, we are angry,” said school board member Walt Edinger during the meeting. “It is an infuriating thing. When a person of trust violates that trust and hurts the district and community. The sooner [he‘s gone], the better.”
Mr. Whitson, 30 of Bowling Green, was arrested at work on July 2. He was immediately put on administrative leave with pay. The district had a hearing last week with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees union which represents Mr. Whitson and other school administration employees, and afterward Mr. Whitson was suspended without pay. He worked in the district‘s treasurer‘s office handling accounts receivable and student activities accounts. His job paid $37,425 a year.
The county prosecutor’s office has charged Mr. Whitson with writing two checks in February from the school district, which totaled $80,000, to the Bowling Green Athletic Boosters. The boosters alerted authorities recently to the checks. Mr. Hosler said the district was stunned the theft had occurred.
“This is a theft, to those people that knew and worked with Eric, it is a betrayal,” Mr. Hosler said. “We have a very skilled and dedicated staff and policies in place to safeguard district funds. While the investigation is still ongoing, we now know that, despite our best efforts, we fell short in immediately detecting his scheme.”
Mr. Whitson‘s case will be reviewed by a Wood County grand jury in the next 90 days.
Contact Matt Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.