A school administrator has been jailed for eight months after she embezzled £30,000 from school funds, including pupils' school trip money.
Barbara Donald's scam was discovered when a travel firm contacted the headmaster of Baldragon Academy in Dundee to say a cheque for a trip to France had bounced.
Donald, 41, was then confronted and admitted she had taken the money.
She later told police that she had embezzled the money to pay off £25,000 worth of debt she had racked up.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard that Donald had taken out payday loans with interest rates of up to 2500% to pay the interest on catalogue debts she had racked up.
Fiscal depute Donna Davidson told the court that Donald had "almost direct financial control over all school funds".
Mrs Davidson said that was despite Donald "appearing disorganised" in her role.
The prosecutor said: "She was employed at Baldragon Academy since January 1999 as administrative officer. Her duties involved looking after school accounts, paying bills, taking in cash from pupils for materials and school trips etc as well as other administrative duties. She was well respected and trusted in the school given her extensive period of service. Witnesses indicate the accused was disorganised but never appeared untrustworthy.
"Certain financial protocols were not always adhered to with regard to obtaining authorisation signatures and checking invoices, this was often put down to her being disorganised. Concerns arose when a trip was organised in June 2010 for pupils and staff to go to France. The final cheque was received by the travel company IBT Travel Group for £10,419 but it went unpaid. The school were contacted and the accused was asked and she stated she would issue a further cheque but it was again returned."
When the head teacher confronted Donald she admitted she had taken the cash. She was interviewed by police where she admitted the embezzlement and stated she had serious financial problems and used the money to pay her creditors.
Donald, of Abercorn Street, Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to embezzling £30,000 from the school between May 31, 2007 and September 1, 2010.
Defence lawyer Theo Finlay said Donald had got into a spiral of debts. He said: "She had catalogue debts and had taken pay day loans to pay the interest of them. She has a pension fund of some £80,000 and she can pay £30,000 of that as compensation."
Sheriff Tom Hughes jailed Donald for eight months and ordered her to pay £30,000 in compensation.
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