A new report from the Texas Monitor is raising some serious questions about taxpayers and public pensions.
In 2016, Carolyn Foster, Grand Prairie ISD’s former chief financial officer, was arrested and later convicted of stealing $600,000 from the district. That money was originally slotted to go toward “awards to teachers and other needs”, but instead it wound up in Foster’s hands. That is, until the embezzlement “was discovered in 2015 by two accountants at the district who noticed cash missing that was held in a vault at the district.”
As punishment for her crime, Foster was sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $633,000 in restitution. But here’s the rub.
Even though Foster was charged and convicted of stealing from the district, this longtime public employee is still eligible to collect a public pension from the Teacher Retirement System—even while in prison. Foster’s pension is valued at $3,700 per month according to court documents.
According to a spokesperson for the TRS: “Under current law, the only circumstance in which a TRS member can forfeit their pension is if they are convicted of an improper relationship with a student. There is nothing in the statute that voids a pension based on the situation regarding fraud against the school district.”
This whole situation begs the question: Is it fair to ask taxpayers to provide a pension to a convicted felon who stole from teachers and kids?