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Principal faces charges of stealing school funds

OCEANSIDE — An elementary school principal accused of stealing nearly $50,000 from the Oceanside Unified School District pleaded not guilty to multiple grand theft charges Sept. 22.
Paulette Dastrup Thompson, 59, is charged with nine counts of grand theft and one count of using someone else’s personal identification in connection to thefts over a four-year period from the district and Parent Teacher Organization.
If convicted, Thompson faces up to nine years in prison. Currently, she remains free on bond.
At her arraignment hearing Sept. 22 in downtown San Diego Superior Court, Judge David Szumowski set a readiness conference for Nov. 3 and a preliminary hearing for Dec. 1.
Steve Lombard, a spokesman for Oceanside Unified School District, said representatives from the PTO at Reynolds Elementary School came across discrepancies in their books that they had concerns about. After the school district reviewed the information, Lombard said they felt the questions and concerns were strong enough to warrant an investigation.
At that point, Lombard said the school district, as part of its policy, handed over the case to an outside investigator, who also found some issues with the financial records. Finally, the case was given to the Oceanside Police Department and then the district attorney’s office, he said.
Lombard said Thompson has been with the district since 1989. He said she started as a teacher and worked her way up. Before moving into her recent role as principal at Reynolds Elementary, Lombard said Thompson had also been a principal at San Luis Rey Elementary.
She was placed on paid administrative leave in February, Lombard said. However, once the criminal charges were filed, her status changed to unpaid leave.
Lombard said his records showed Thompson was criminally charged Aug. 31.
A decision regarding Thompson’s future employment with Oceanside Unified School District has not been made yet, Lombard said.