ELWOOD, Ind. – Elwood’s superintendent, Casey Smitherman, was back to work on Thursday after she reportedly paid for a student’s medical treatment with her insurance.
Her attorney, Bryan Williams, said she and her husband have been helping the boy for months. Williams said she heard about the 15-year-old student who was living with a 79-year-old uncle.
“If they needed anything, transportation or food or clothing, they’ve just helped them out,” said Williams.
Smitherman faces several charges after police say she sought medical treatment for a student using her son’s name. Charges against the administrator include official misconduct, insurance fraud, insurance application fraud, and identity deception.
“She is all about education. She is all about helping kids,” said Williams.
Williams said Smitherman is someone he would trust with his own children. He believed Elwood Community Schools is lucky to have Smitherman as its leader.
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.
“There were other options she could have done but none of them were as immediate as just getting him the medicine,” Williams said. “She saw how sick he was and just wanted to give him medicine.”
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.
“The heart was good but it was still illegal,” said detective Ben Gosnell.
A group in Madison County said there are legal options for someone who wants to help a child they are not related to. Jama Donovan is the senior director of Children’s Bureau in Region 11, which covers Madison County.
“We would send someone from our offices to go into Elwood to be with that family,” Donovan said.
The Children’s Bureau focuses on improving the lives of children and families through programs that reduce child abuse and neglect, increase the number of adoptions, and strengthen foster care. It offers a free and voluntary program for needy families across the state.
“It’s really designed around what the family needs,” she said.
Williams said Smitherman, a mother herself, views this child as her own but she has learned her lesson after this experience.
“She has a heart for this type of situation and she was showing it and made a mistake,” he said.
Elwood police officers said they reported this to the Department of Child Services although they do not believe this is a case of neglect.