A former parent-teacher association president and treasurer accused of embezzling nearly $25,500 from Odyssey Elementary School accounts will face a jury trial in November, according to court documents.
Police arrested Michelle Dawson Owens, 44, in April on suspicion of stealing from two parent-teacher group accounts that benefited Odyssey Elementary in School District 49.
Her trial is scheduled for Nov. 14 in 4th Judicial District Court in Colorado Springs.
Owens pleaded not guilty at a July hearing to the charge of Class 4 felony theft.
In addition to having key roles with the PTA, Owens worked as a reading interventionist at Odyssey Elementary.
She’s suspected of siphoning money from the accounts over a period of nearly two years, from September 2015 to June 2017.
The money allegedly was stolen from revenue raised from a business the parent-teacher association had contracted with — Booster-thon.
Owens told police she used the money for “things around the house,” as she and her husband keep separate bank accounts and her husband “provides her with a periodic amount of money to run the household with.”
Suspicion arose when the parent-teacher association bank account went into an overdraft, but the account was supposed to have been closed due to a restructuring of the group, according to the arrest affidavit.
Owens had been writing checks from the defunct account to herself, witnesses told police, “above and beyond normal expenditures of the PTA,” leading them to conclude she was pilfering funds.
Owens initially told the previous Odyssey parent-teacher association president and the vice president of the El Paso County PTA that it was hard for her to get the records together, and “she always seemed to have an excuse for not providing an accounting for the account,” the affidavit states.
Owens told police that the PTA records were kept in a box in a storage shed on the school grounds and the records had gotten mixed up with other groups’ paperwork.
Copies of Owens’ driver’s license gave detectives a handwriting sample, leading them to determine that Owens had deposited some of the checks she had written to herself into her personal bank account.
Odyssey Principal Sarah McAfee said Owens confessed to her deeds in writing in January, according to the affidavit.
Owens told police that the money was deposited directly from the parent-teacher association into her personal bank account, and when the parent-teacher association disbanded and reorganized as a parent-teacher organization, she didn’t know how to stop the direct deposit without drawing attention.
The association was an independently operating group, while the organization operated under the authority of the school.
Owens is accused of embezzling $13,945.13 from the parent-teacher association account and $11,512.93 from the parent-teacher organization account.
Class 4 felonies are punishable in Colorado by two to six years of imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.
Odyssey Elementary now has a Community in Action Parent Group, with its finances listed on the school website. The group had about $300 in its account as of its last posting in July.