After news broke that a former longtime employee of the Glendora Unified School District had been arrested and charged with embezzling in excess of $350,000 of district money, residents in the Glendora community - many of them parents or have donated thousands of dollars to the district - were left shocked, disappointed and angry.
Cynthia Schlig, 57, of Upland, had been employed with the district for 35 years and most recently worked in the district’s financial department. Glendora Police say that Schlig misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars of district money in an elaborate theft scheme.
District officials first discovered the missing funds and confronted Schlig, who immediately resigned, said Glendora Unified Superintendent Robert Voors. The case was immediately turned over to the Glendora Police Department in January 2012, which then launched a 19-month investigation.
“We are saddened and deeply disappointed over the actions of this longtime employee,” Voors said.
Voors would not comment on how Schlig was able to embezzle more than $350,000 from the district, but pointed out that the district is subject to state and federal audits annually.
“We have always been found to have exemplary practices,” said Voors. “Nevertheless we have reviewed our policies and practices and implemented improvements with the backing of accounting experts. We have implemented additional safeguards to ensure the security, transparency and accountability necessary to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.”
Longtime Glendora Unified school board member Doris Blum called the arrest “an unfortunate situation for all those involved.”
“I have known Ms. Schlig as a trusted employee and am angered and deeply saddened by her total betrayal of that trust,” said Blum.
Many other members of the Glendora community were left shocked and betrayed following allegations of Schlig’s alleged crimes.
Parents voiced their outrage on social media.
“As parents, we have donated and given our time as well as money. Embezzling from the district is a crime against all of us who have worked, volunteered and donated,” Annie Slifkin wrote on Glendora Patch’s Facebook page.
“Makes me sick,” Kimberli King Healy wrote. “Being a volunteer on campus, on the PTA committee and working the fundraising...I know how hard it is to raise the money.”
The Foundation for Glendora Unified Schools, which includes fundraising efforts from residents and local business owners, donated $450,000 to the district in 2012. The organization has been instrumental in retaining district programs, including its music and college prep programs.
During the past year, the district had been able to avert layoffs and furlough days, despite previous drastic budget cuts that included a $2.5 million budgetary hit. Still, Voors said the best case scenario for schools this year would be level funding from the previous year.