Substitute teacher bilks students out of thousands - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Substitute teacher bilks students out of thousands

Wise is being held in the Coffee County Jail on felony theft charges Wise is being held in the Coffee County Jail on felony theft charges

April 25, 2008

Douglas -- It was supposed to be a fun senior weekend for these soon to be Coffee High grads.

"We had our clothes packed," said Michael Jordan. "Big bags of clothes," said Angela Faulcon.

Jordan and Faulcon, both seniors at Coffee High, were packed and ready to go to Grad Night at Disney World in Orlando, Flordia. But now they must unpack their bags, along with 41 of their classmates who won't be taking a senior trip because a school employee, 39-year-old Christy Wise, took them for their money.

"She was collecting the money and I don't even know how she planned on getting them there. But I do know that one of our assistant principals from the high school did call Disney World and they said that they had not received a deposit from her," said Kim Clayton, public relations officer for Coffee County Schools.

According to police, Wise, who frequently substitute taught at Coffee High, began collecting money from students back in October - promising them a trip to Disney World for $250.00. But when the bus didn't arrive Friday morning at Coffee High and Ms. Wise was no where to be found, students and their parents became irate.

"She said we we're gonna do this and we're gonna do that, but actually, we wasn't doing nothing. And this morning, when we called her, she didn't answer the phone." said student Brandi Graham.

Martha Gifford, who said the money that she paid Wise was hard to come by, added that seeing her daughter disappointed was heartbreaking. "It hurt her because she was mad and wanted to cry about money she had just give away, or somebody done took from them thinking they're going somewhere."

Sophia Graham held a copy of a down payment check for $50.00 endorsed and cashed by Wise last December. It was money wasted on a trip her daughter won't get to take.

She said, "I asked my daughter to call her and ask her how to make the check out. She (Wise) said leave it blank. She'll put CHS when she gets there. But I went and got my check from the bank and I realized that Ms. Christy has signed the check,"

Detectives with the Douglas Police Department and the Coffee County Sheriffs Office questioned Wise who they learned had collected more than $7,400.00 for the trip she never booked. Now she's being held in the Coffee County Jail charged with 1 felony count of theft by conversion.

Police say they have no reason to believe that Christy Wise even attempted to book a trip.

School officials say the senior trip Wise told students she was planning to book was not a school sponsored trip and Coffee High cannot be held responsible for refunding their money.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=StudentsBilked/CF

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