PINE BLUFF -- Patsy Hughey, the recently fired superintendent of the Dollarway School District, has been arrested and charged with fraudulent use of a school-issued credit card, according to the Pine Bluff Police Department.
Police arrested Hughey on Thursday and booked her into the Jefferson County jail. She was later released on her own recognizance, according to jail records.
In a probable-cause affidavit, investigators wrote that Hughey used a Dollarway School District credit card to pay for $1,400 in personal items, which included tuition at Arkansas Tech University.
According to the university, she is one of 14 students currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree in school leadership. The probable-cause affidavit notes that Arkansas Tech's controller provided a bill showing that Hughey had used the district's credit card there.
Attempts to reach Hughey on Friday were unsuccessful. A phone number listed for her rang unanswered on Friday, and no other number could be located.
Dollarway officials have said they are not commenting on the case against Hughey, citing the ongoing investigation.
In early November, Pine Bluff police announced that Hughey was under investigation concerning possible fraud but provided no details.
The affidavit notes that on Nov. 3, the business manager at the Dollarway district contacted authorities to report that Hughey had used a district-issued credit card to buy unauthorized items.
The Dollarway School Board voted 4-3 on Nov. 2 to fire Hughey but didn't announce why.
On Dec. 10, the Arkansas Board of Education voted to take control of the 1,192-student Dollarway School District, removing the elected School Board and replacing the interim superintendent with longtime south Arkansas educator Barbara Warren.
The takeover, based largely on the academic-distress status of Dollarway High School and on a series of School Board/administration conflicts, marks the second time in three years that the state has seized control of the district.
The district was handed back over to a newly elected School Board in September 2014 after the first takeover in June 2012. Hughey was hired as superintendent in May.
Former Dollarway School Board member Gene Stewart said he and other board members had suspected Hughey was defrauding the district and that's why she was fired.
Stewart said it had become apparent to the board that "there was misspending" and that an activity account with a pool of money from athletic events and student clubs may have also been illegally tapped.
During Hughey's tenure as superintendent of the Stephens School District in Ouachita County from 2013-14, she became the subject of an Arkansas Legislative Joint Auditing Committee report that found that she had used more than $3,000 in district funds to pay for fuel and maintenance for her personal vehicle.
The findings were turned over to the 13th Judicial Circuit prosecuting attorney's office, though no charges were ever filed. Prosecutor David Butler of Magnolia was out of the office Friday and unavailable for comment on the matter.
Hughey has denied any wrongdoing during her tenure at the Stephens district. Hughey said in a previous interview that she had a verbal contract to use the school credit card on her personal vehicle with the Stephens School Board.
A Section on 12/19/2015
Print Headline: Booted school leader arrested