MICHAEL HAILEY stole more than $14,000 from students and teachers the the H.B. Wilson Elementary School in Camden, and of attempting to defraud the school district for an additional $25,000. His crimes are especially disgusting in that he deceived children and parents, many from poor families, into paying cash for field trips funded through the school district, and then pocketing the case. 

Compounding his offense is the awful situation where he was allowed to retire with his pension pending the outcome of his trial. Justice demands that he be stripped of his pension and his teaching license, now that he has confessed to his crimes in court. 

Camden Courier-Post - November 4, 2008

Former Camden principal admits theft

Courier-Post Staff

A former principal admitted Monday that he stole more than $14,000 from students and teachers at the city's H.B. Wilson Elementary School.

Michael Hailey, 67, of Delran, said in court that he deceived the victims, including some from needy families, into paying for field trips that were already funded by the Camden school district.

Hailey also said he tried to steal more than $25,000 by billing the city school board in connection with eight meetings of the School Leadership Council that never took place.

Hailey retired in July 2006 while facing disciplinary action by the district. He pleaded guilty Monday to official misconduct and attempted theft by deception.

Under a plea agreement, Hailey faces a recommended sentence of three to five years in prison, authorities said. He is to be sentenced Feb. 6 by Superior Court Judge Stephen Holden.

The school district prohibits charging elementary or middle school students for curriculum-related field trips. Instead, the district pays vendors for trip expenses.

Hailey said he knew this when he required payments by his victims. Teachers conducted fundraisers with students and sometimes paid for poor kids, according to state authorities.

The 13 field trips from May 2005 to May 2006 included visits to the Philadelphia Zoo, historical sites and local farms, officials said.

Hailey also said he requested extra wages for 14 members of the School Leadership Council in connection with phantom meetings of the school advisory group, authorities said.

The district did not pay for the meetings "because it discovered they had not been held," Attorney General Anne Milgram said in a statement.

Charged with Hailey were Patricia Johnson, 59, of Atco, a former administrator at Wilson Elementary; Juanita Worthy, 60, of Evesham, former principal of the city's U.S. Wiggins Elementary School; and her daughter, Keah Worthy, 32, of Evesham, a former teacher at Wilson Elementary.

Hailey said the defendants pressured teachers at the Wilson and Wiggins schools to sign blank attendance sheets for meetings of each school's council.

Hailey, Johnson and Juanita Worthy were suspended with pay by the school board in May 2006. Johnson and Juanita Worthy also retired in July 2006 while facing disciplinary action.

Johnson and Keah Worthy have pleaded guilty to attempted theft by deception. Juanita Worthy's case is pending..