The former executive director of two Montessori schools in Whitehorse will be serving time in the community for stealing tens of thousands of dollars while in her position of power.
Emily Hood, 38, has been sentenced to a 12-month conditional sentence order for theft over $5,000 that the judge called a breach of trust.
Hood admits she stole money from the Whitehorse Montessori Society (WMS) and the Yukon Parents for Montessori Society (YPMS), according to an agreed statement of facts filed with the Yukon Territorial Court.
The document states Hood was hired as executive director of the WMS from June 13, 2018, to June 13, 2019. She then became executive director of both WMS and YMPS from June 13, 2019, to Dec. 5, 2019, when she was terminated. The Montessori pre-school and elementary school are governed by two separate societies with one board of directors.
As executive director, Hood was paid a salary and given free tuition for her two children. She was entitled to claim reimbursements from the societies. Although the societies did not have a formalized process for processing and issuing reimbursements, receipts and invoices were required.
In the document, Hood admits no receipts or invoices exist for some of the items that she claimed reimbursement for. Additionally, she claimed reimbursement for assets such as furniture that did not benefit the Montessori classrooms. Hood made expense claims in the names of staff without their knowledge but made the reimbursement cheques payable to herself and cashed them.
Per the statement of facts, production orders obtained by the RCMP show Hood cashed WMS and YPMS cheques that bore the forged signatures of the few members of the boards of directors who had signing authority.
Hood admits that she deposited close to $54,000 in fraudulent cheques for reimbursement.
Prior to the judge’s sentencing decision on June 15, a handful of victim-impact statements were read in court.
Former school treasurer Michelle Leach read out her statement.
Leach said Hood had not apologized or taken responsibility for her actions.
Leach said the school had a six-figure debt to CRA, had not paid rent in months and was in debt to various organizations in Whitehorse. Leach said all staff jobs would have been lost, but donations from families saved the school. The school was unable to give staff pay raises and renumeration and the depth of the school’s programming was affected, Leach said. She said it took two years to bring the school back into good standing. Hood did everything she could to hide the offences and destroy the school, Leach said, adding that Hood continued to find ways to sue the school.
Hood took an opportunity to briefly address the court.
“I’m sorry for the trust that I breached,” she said.
After a short recess, Judge Karen Ruddy delivered a decision based on a joint-sentencing submission from the Crown and defence, represented by Whitehorse-based lawyer Vincent Larochelle. Crown counsel Andréane Côté appeared via videoconference from Québec City.
“The impact has been devastating,” Ruddy said, noting the six articulate victim-impact statements that provided the court with details about the financial, emotional and physical effects.
Ruddy summarized the school’s major debt, loss of students and the loss of a teacher. She also highlighted an inability to give raises to teachers and purchase items for students, including teachers paying out of pocket for supplies, as well as the stress, anxiety and betrayal expressed by the victims.
“It has shaken their own confidence in themselves and affected their ability to trust others,” Ruddy said.
Ruddy said aggravating factors include the breach of trust, the amount of money stolen and the impact of Hood’s actions. Ruddy noted the defence did not offer why the money was stolen or what was done with it.
The guilty plea, a delay driven by changes in law and the payment of restitution were considered mitigating factors, Ruddy said.
In adopting the joint submission, Ruddy explained that under the order, Hood must have no contact with eight people and must not attend the schools. Hood has been ordered to serve six months on house arrest, except for work and other circumstances given her supervisor’s permission, followed by six months on a curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The judge said a breach of the order could land Hood in jail.
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org