Everyone with children hopes that our kids’ educators are people who love and want the best for them, at home and on campus. And there can be no doubt that Indiana superintendent Casey Smitherman is passionate about the kids entrusted to her in the Elwood Community Schools – she committed insurance fraud to make sure one of them got much needed antibiotics for his strep throat.
Smitherman told her local news that she went to a student’s home to check on him after he failed to show up for school.
“I went to his home to check on him, and he told me that he had not felt well enough to come to school. After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat. As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated and I took him to an emergency clinic.”
The emergency clinic refused to treat him because he didn’t have insurance – which, just let that sink in for a minute. A child was told he couldn’t see a doctor or get antibiotics because his parents didn’t have health insurance.
To be clear, if left untreated, strep throat can develop into scarlet fever, which can be fatal (it’s rare, but it’s still possible).
Smitherman wouldn’t accept that, and took the boy to another clinic, where she this time presented him as her son. He was seen, diagnosed, and received a much-needed prescription for amoxicillin.
“I knew he did not have insurance, and I wanted to do all I could to help him get well. I know this action was wrong. In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health.”
The educator was booked on charges of insurance fraud, identity deception, and official misconduct. She’s since been released on bail and has agreed to enter a “diversion program,” which means the felony charges will be dropped as long as she avoids arrest for a calendar year.
While Smitherson clearly broke the law, the real travesty is that we live in a country where her actions were the only way to get a child necessary medical treatment. She did what she had to in the moment and is willing to accept the consequences for her actions. And by “her actions” we mean “helping a child in need get potentially lifesaving medical treatment.”
The Elwood School District agrees, and says in a statement that they’re standing behind their employee.
“Dr. Smitherson has tirelessly worked for the best interests of all students in Elwood Community Schools since she was hired. She made an unfortunate mistake, but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare. We know she understands how what she did was wrong, and she continues to have our full support in continuing her position.”
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
No matter the consequences.