ELWOOD, Ind. – Elwood’s superintendent faces several charges after police say she sought medical treatment for a student using her son's name.
Charges against Casey Smitherman include official misconduct, insurance fraud, insurance application fraud and identity deception.
"I understand it was her desire to help a young man that was in bad shape but probably not the best example to set for young people to assume other identities and make false statements," Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said.
According to court documents, a 15-year-old student didn’t come to school on Jan. 9 because he had a sore throat. Smitherman picked him up and took him to the med check in Elwood so a doctor could examine him. However, she signed the student in under her son’s name and also had a prescription for Amoxicillin filled at CVS under her son's name.
The teen tore the name off the bottle’s label because he “knew it was wrong” and “to have a prescription in his possession with a different name is bad,” court documents said.
Police received a tip about the situation and followed up with the teen’s guardian on Jan. 16. A day later, Smitherman talked to Elwood police about the situation.
During her statement, she told police she realized the student wasn’t at school on Jan. 9 and was worried about him. In the past, she’s bought clothes for him and helped clean his house, according to court documents.
She said she didn’t contact the Department of Child Services because she feared the teen would be placed in foster care.
She admitted taking him to the med check and signing him in under her son’s name. She also said she’d taken him to CVS to get a prescription; she said she had the prescription filled under her son’s name. She dropped the boy off at home with the prescription and said she didn’t realized he’d torn the name off the bottle.
Medical records obtained by subpoena showed a prescription was filled under her son’s name on Jan. 9. The total claim was $233, according to court documents. Police contacted the Department of Child Services to advise them that "financial help may be needed" for the teen.
Smitherman issued 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.
The Elwood school board issued this statement:
Dr. Smitherman has tirelessly worked for the best interests of all students in Elwood Community Schools since she was hired. 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.
It is our understanding that the prosecutor has agreed to a diversion program and that will be finalized this afternoon.
"I think there have to be some consequences but they shouldn't be career jeopardizing," Cummings said.
He said they are looking at a diversion program, which if followed, would mean there is no criminal conviction.