Former principal pleads guilty to embezzling from school

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – There's been an admission of guilt from a former middle school principal who's charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the school she was trusted to run.

Right after school started at the Middle School at Parkside in fall 2015, the Jackson Police Department started investigating the school's finances when big discrepancies were discovered.

The investigation came to a climax Friday morning, when Parkside's former principal, Kelly Gilliam-Pennington, admitted to embezzling more than $50,000 from the school.

Holding back tears, Gilliam-Pennington confessed that between December 2013 and September 2015 she wrote checks using an account meant for school expenses for her own personal use.

She was able to work out a plea deal, taking a lesser charge of embezzlement between $20-50,000.

Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jerry Jarzynka says these are difficult cases to investigate.

"It's very time consuming because there's usually a lot of paperwork, a lot of documentation that has to be reviewed and checked," Jarzynka said.

The case is coming to a close for investigators, but also for the community that was hurt by this crime.

"That causes a tremendous feeling that there's been a breach of that trust," Jarzynka said.

Whether she pays restitution or goes to prison, the former educator's fate is now up to the judge.

"Based on the sentencing guidelines here, probably the guidelines are not going to be prison," Jarzynka said.

6 News reached out to the Jackson School District for comment.

They didn't want to say anything, because Gilliam-Pennington is no longer an employee in the district.

Meanwhile, she'll be back in court for sentencing in January.


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