GUILDERLAND A math teacher at Farnsworth Middle School allegedly stole more than $100,000 from the Guilderland Teachers’ Association, according to police.
The Guilderland Central School District placed Brenda McClaine on paid administrative leave the morning after the Guilderland Police Department arrested her on Thursday, March 27, for allegedly stealing $100,382.50 in member dues from the district teachers union. McClaine, 39, of 37 Armstrong Circle in Altamont, was charged with grand larceny in the second degree, a felony.
McClaine served as treasurer for the GTA during the 2012-13 school year. Police allege she stole the union funds between August of 2012 and October of last year.
“This is an unfortunate episode in our long history of the union,” GTA President Maceo Dubose said. “We put some stronger financial controls in place and we are continuing to do so.”
Dubose said the union’s executive board appointed a new treasurer soon after McClaine resigned.
Guilderland officials said McClaine has been at the school district since 1999 and most recently taught math at the middle school. She worked with approximately 70 students in grades 6, 7, and 8 in an Academic Intervention Services classroom setting. Shortly after police released evidence, she was reassigned to the district office.
“This is an incredibly unfortunate situation for everyone involved,” Guilderland Superintendent of Schools Marie Wiles said in a statement. “However, as educators, our primary focus needs to remain on what’s most important, and that is educating the nearly 5,000 students who come through our doors each and every day.”
Dubose echoed Wiles and said the union does not want the incident to distract from educating children.
“Our teachers do a great job, and we are focused on helping kids,” Dubose said.
A certified substitute math teacher has been covering McClaine’s classroom duties since she was reassigned and “will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” the district said in a statement.
The GTA is the district’s largest bargaining group and covers around 450 staff members, including teachers, social workers, school counselors, psychologists, nurses and others.
District officials stressed McClaine has not been accused of stealing school funds and the charges are tied to her role in the union.
McClaine was arraigned in Guilderland Town Court and released on $15,000 bail.