News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 23, 2014

Former Parke County teacher arrested on felony charges


The Tribune-Star

ROCKVILLE — A former Montezuma Elementary teacher — who also had served as president of the Southwest Parke Education Association — was arrested Wednesday on felony counts related to alleged missing funds, according to Indiana State Police.

The missing funds involved school fundraisers and teacher union dues.

Melissa A. McMullen, 38, of Rosedale, was arrested on one count of forgery and four counts of theft. She turned herself in to the Parke County Jail on Wednesday morning in response to a Parke Circuit Court warrant.

She posted bail, which was set at $15,000.

McMullen is scheduled to appear in Parke Circuit Court at 10 a.m. Monday for an initial hearing.

Detectives were made aware of the allegations on Jan. 7 by the Southwest Parke Community School Corp. attorney.

During the nearly four-month investigation, Indiana State Police developed information alleging that while McMullen was in charge of fundraising events for the sixth-grade class at Montezuma Elementary, she used $2,533 of those monies for personal reasons from September 2013 through December 2013. The money originated from four separate fundraising events in that time period.

She was a sixth-grade teacher, but she has since resigned.

Also, between September 2011 and December 2013 and while serving as the former president of the Southwest Parke Education Association, McMullen is alleged to have used $75,251 of those funds for personal use.

The Southwest Parke Education Association account accepted dues from individual corporation teachers and then McMullen, acting as the former education association president, was to forward those funds to the Indiana State Teachers Association, according to State Police. Instead, McMullen used some of those funds for personal use. McMullen, through her attorney, has since reimbursed the SWPEA the $75,251.

Her attorney, Mike Ellis, said, “She is fully cooperating, and she has throughout the entire investigation and will continue to cooperate.”

As the case progresses, “It gives us an opportunity to provide helpful information that may explain or refute some of the allegations,” Ellis said.

Leonard Orr, Southwest Parke superintendent, said McMullen initially was on a leave of absence but resigned early this year.

“We’re disappointed in what happened and the way it was done,” Orr said. “We’re going to get through it.”

While the money to the teachers union has been reimbursed, funds missing from fundraisers have not been returned, Orr said.

Indiana State Police Detective Brian Maudlin investigated the case, with assistance from the Parke County Prosecutor’s Office and the finance and accounting division of the Indiana State Teachers Association.