Former Austin principal allegedly stole more than $100K over four years from school


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former principal at the Hyde Park School has been arrested after she was accused of intentionally stealing over $100,000 from the non-profit academy over a four-year period.

48-year-old Cathleen Adam-Eclarinal faces second degree felony charges of Theft for her alleged involvement in the crime.

According to the warrant, Hyde Park Schools officials met last month to review the yearly budget when they noticed a suspicious $6,020 expenditure made by Adam-Eclarinal.

Further investigation by the administration led them to discover 24 fraudulent invoices made by the former principal, totaling $107,068.99, according to the warrant.

Other findings based on the internal investigation:

  • The addresses for certain expenses were non-existent
  • The purchase orders used on submitted invoices did not represent legitimate purchase order numbers
  • The international coding used for book purchases were non-existent
  • Certain invoices indicated the purchases had been paid in full using Adam-Eclarinal’s personal credit cards

Detectives say Adam-Eclarinal would claim to use a personal credit card to buy various school-related items, create fraudulent invoices for the expenses and submit reimbursement requests, which the school would then honor with a physical check.

According to a list of expenses submitted by Adam-Eclarinal, the charges ranged from $1,714.91 to $7,700 and stretched from February 2015 to March 2019. Adam-Eclarinal’s final day as the principal at the school was June 30, 2019.

A spokesperson for the school said they took action after identifying the scheme:

“We alerted law enforcement after carefully and exhaustively verifying a pattern of financial deceit spanning her five-year tenure as a member of our leadership team. We are deeply disappointed at this breach of trust.”

Brian Wood, Spokesperson, Hyde Park Schools

According to official police documents, Adam-Eclarinal accepted a new position in July at The Girls School, the first all-female school in Austin.

The director of communications at The Girls School said Adam-Eclarinal submitted her resignation on Monday, Dec. 16 after “acknowledging a breach of trust” within their school’s budget, as well.

A spokesperson with the Girls’ School told KXAN:

“The Girls’ School of Austin accepted the resignation of Cathleen Eclarinal on December 16, 2019. Ms. Eclarinal was employed as the head of school from July 1, 2019 – December 16, 2019. 

We, the GSA board, were made aware of information on December 16 regarding the charges against Ms. Eclarinal. We are working with financial professionals to strengthen our procedures and the school’s financial stability has not been impacted. 

We are moving forward with identifying an interim head of school and beginning a search for our next leader. GSA is a strong and resilient community. We remain dedicated to providing an excellent education for our girls and supporting their academic and social-emotional well being.”

Linda Maher, Director of Communications, The Girls’ School of Austin

Documents show Adam-Eclarinal agreed to meet with police last week, but later failed to show.

The penalty for this degree of theft by deception has increased considering the Hyde Park Schools operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. As of Tuesday afternoon, Adam-Eclarinal is out on bond from Travis County Jail.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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