The former chair and treasurer of Discovery Passage Elementary School’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) has been charged with stealing money from the parent group.
Jessica Taylor along with her husband Neil Taylor are each facing one count of fraud over $5,000 and one count of theft over $5,000.
Staff Sgt. Troy Beauregard of the Campbell River RCMP said because the case is before the courts he could not elaborate on the amount of money the pair are accused of embezzling but said it was “substantially over” $5,000.
He said police got involved after being approached by the PAC.
“In late January 2012 we commenced an investigation as a result of a complaint from the PAC,” Beauregard said. “As a result of that investigation a report was submitted to Crown counsel in May.”
The Taylors are charged with stealing money from the PAC between Dec. 1, 2010 and Jan. 31, 2012.
Jessica served as treasurer of the PAC during winter 2011 and then took over the position of chair for the 2011/12 school year, before vacating the position early this year.
Neil was the treasurer of the PAC during the 2011/12 school year.
Jessica is no stranger to the media. She first approached the Mirror in February 2011 looking for the community’s support to help raise money for a new playground after the school’s wooden climber was torn down by School District 72, citing safety concerns.
“It’s pretty upsetting,” she said at the time. “There’s new kindergarten students coming in September and we’re not going to have a playground for them.”
Jessica quickly became the spokesperson for a rigourous fundraising effort, which the Mirror covered in eight different articles over a span of a year and a half.
Her most desperate plea for money for the new playground came in late January 2012.
“We are asking for cash donations by any companies, local residents – anyone who is able to help us out,” Jessica said. “We are a determined group of parents that want a playground for our children’s school.”
At that point, the PAC had raised about $8,000 through a fun fair, magazine sales, a student’s pledges collected through the Great Walk from Tahsis to Gold River, plus it had received a $10,000 reimbursement grant from the provincial government to cover an addition the PAC had added to the original playground a year prior.
Months later, in June, after Jessica was removed from the PAC, the parent group received a $50,000 provincial grant, which made it possible for the school to finally get its much-needed playground.
The Taylors were charged on Nov. 9 and are expected to appear in court Dec. 10 at 9 a.m.
Neither are being held in custody.