"It's hard to look in the face of that sick kid": Superintendent charged with fraud speaks out

Superintendent charged for helping student
Superintendent charged for helping student 01:55

Elwood, Ind. — An Indiana superintendent was arrested last week for insurance fraud, identity deception and official misconduct. But Casey Smitherman said she believed she was doing the right thing at the time. 

"I would really like to go back and revisit that moment and change it, but I can't," she said.

Two weeks ago, she took a 15-year-old student who didn't have health insurance to a medical clinic. He had a very sore throat, so she passed him off as her son and paid for the clinic visit and prescription with her own health insurance.

Casey Smitherman CBS News

"It's hard not to want to help all of our kids," Smitherman said.

In her school district, 78 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches, so groups of teachers have identified struggling students to help with food, clothing and mentoring.

Last Saturday, Smitherman told the police what she'd done and turned herself in. The police alerted prosecutor Rodney Cummings.

"I think there have to be some consequences, but they shouldn't be career jeopardizing. I think there's a way to take care of that without destroying her career, because her motives were good," Cummings said.

"I'm not justifying what I did but I also think it's hard to look in the face of that sick kid and so until you're in that boat you don't know," Smitherman said.

She is now in what's called a diversion program that will allow the charges to be dropped if there are not further arrests in the coming year.

  • Dean Reynolds
    Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.