It's Prison Time for Principal

Paulettte Thompson gets 90 days in jail.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cynthia Faram

    An Oceanside principal is going to prison for stealing thousands from kids.  

    Paulette Thompson, 59, did not speak at her sentencing hearing Thursday in San Diego after pleading guilty in January to grand theft and misappropriation of public funds.

    It's a crime that's driven a wedge between some parents and teachers. 

    Thompson's supporters praised the woman even after she received the 90-day prison sentence and 5 years probation.

    Doreen Guthrie, a first grade teacher at Reynolds Elementary, said "She came in and she brought up our spirits.  She brought up the test scores.  She brought up what kids felt about themselves."  

    An Oceanside Unified School District official told the judge that Thompson had repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

    While the judge commended Thompson's  years of service to children, he said her theft was a very serious breach of trust.

    Outside courtroom, the battle continued between Thompson's  supporters and, Angela Ripsco, the former president of the Parent Teacher Organization who initiated the investigation.

    "It's not funny," said Ripsco, who claims the school and the community have been torn apart with fewer teachers and parents willing to donate time and money. Ripsco said she's received hundreds of crank phone calls, her tires were flattened and the head of a cat was left on her lawn.

    "I was also told that I should take my kids out of Oceanside Unified School District because no one could guarantee their safety," said Ripsco who was on the verge of tears. 

    Thompson will be required to repay $100,000 and the money the district spent investigating her. A hearing will be held April 5.