O’side principal admits stealing from school district

OCEANSIDE — Paulette Thompson, an elementary school principal accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the Oceanside Unified School District, pleaded guilty Jan. 5 to charges relating to the crime. Thompson, 59, admitted to one count each of grand theft and misappropriation of public funds in connection to stealing more than $50,000 between 2005 and 2008 from the district and Parent-Teacher Organization. In accordance to her plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed 17 other charges relating to the crime, including identify theft and grand theft charges. Thompson, who has been with the Oceanside Unified School District since 1990, faces up to three years and eight months in prison, Deputy District Attorney Robert Eichler said. A Feb. 4 sentencing date was set. Because the plea agreement contains a Harvey waiver, Eichler said that the judge can take into account all of the charges for her sentence and for determining a restitution amount. Eichler said the plea deal gives “sufficient parameters” for an appropriate sentence and a chance for the victims to receive full restitution. “She’s admitted to her criminal behavior,” the prosecutor said. He added that he would be asking the judge to require Thompson to fully reimburse the district. While Eichler said he couldn’t comment about what Thompson used the money for, he said that information would likely come out at her sentencing. Last August, criminal charges were filed against Thompson after the PTO at Reynolds Elementary came across discrepancies in their books, Steve Lombard, a spokesman for Oceanside Unified School District, said after Thompson’s September arraignment hearing. Thompson has been on administrative leave from her duties as principal at Reynolds Elementary since February while her case was being investigated, Lombard has said. During her tenure with the district, Thompson was also the principal at San Luis Rey Elementary and worked as a teacher, Lombard said. She remains out of custody on her own recognizance, Eichler said.

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