Fired district employee faces charges in court
Lisa Steen, a former employee of the Colby School District accused of misusing the district credit card for personal expenses and altering her daughter’s grades, appeared in Clark County Circuit Court for the first time on Tuesday. Steen, 44, of Dorchester has been charged with six felonies, including, theft of over $5,000 in a business setting, identity theft, illegally modifying computer data, misconduct in office and two counts of misappropriation of identifi cation information to obtain money.
If convicted of identity theft or the monetary theft charge, Steen faces up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, according to sentencing guidelines for Class H felonies.
Steen appeared in court with her attorney, Karl Kelz, and waived the normal time limits for a preliminary hearing. A pre-trial conference was set for Feb. 6, followed by a status conference on Feb. 25.
Judge Lynsey Brunette set a signature bond of $5,000, with the condition that she not enter the Colby School District premises, except to provide transportation for her children.
According to a criminal complaint filed on Dec. 19, Steen allegedly used the district’s credit card for over $7,000 worth of personal expenses, which she concealed by incorrectly coding them.
After she was terminated by the school district last January, district offi cials found evidence that she improperly altered her daughter’s grades, apparently in an effort to qualify for more scholarship money. Steen told police that she made those grade changes in a “test environment” in the district’s computer system and did not think they would be permanent.
The grade changes resulted in a slightly higher grade-point average, which qualified the student for $1,000 to $2,000 more in college scholarships.
Victim impact statements submitted by co-workers and other school district officials described how Steen’s alleged misdeeds have had lasting effects.
One of the victims said they had worked at the district for over 20 years and had always been able to trust their co-workers, until now.
“That trust was broken after she repeatedly lied to me when I confronted her about purchases on the school district credit card issued in my name,” the statement says.
Another victim statement said “signifi cant staff time” was devoted to investigating Steen’s alleged crimes, and new checks and balances had to be put into place to prevent future mishandling of district funds and student data.
“District administrators and taxpayers rely upon the honesty of those we employ,” it stated. “She violated that trust.”
Besides paying restitution and fines, the writers of the statements recommended Steen be ordered to do community service, attend money management counseling, and write a letter of apology.
One statement suggested the possibility of a “light jail sentence.”
The district’s claim for restitution totals $16,420, which will cover the initial $7,020 in unauthorized credit card charges and $9,400 for the cost of a forensic audit paid for by the district.