VALPARAISO | A longtime middle school science teacher was arrested Thursday on charges he took small amounts of cash from the desks of other teachers at the school.
Randal Kerns, 55, of Valparaiso, faces three felony theft charges.
School officials contacted police April 1 about money missing from three adjacent classrooms at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
According to court documents, School Resource Officer Steve Jackson reviewed security video that showed a man entering the school March 23, the first Saturday of the school's spring break.
The man in the video entered several classrooms around the building and the school office, according to police.
Police said they identified the man as Kerns.
Police said they tracked his key fob records, which showed he entered the building on Saturday and Sunday numerous times during the past year.
On April 5 police met with Kerns, who told officers he had taken money recently from the desks of three other teachers.
He told a detective he had been taking money for the last two or three years, “obtaining a couple hundred dollars which he had no intention of paying back.”
He did not give police a reason for taking the money but said it was his way of dealing with personal issues, according to court documents.
Kerns told police he had done it so many times he could not recall the number of times he went to the school to search through the property of other teachers.
Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Mike Berta said Kerns was placed on suspension as soon as school officials heard the charges. Berta said Friday that Kerns submitted his intent to retire immediately from the school corporation.
The School Board will vote on his request at the May meeting.
Berta said there is no evidence Kerns took money from students or that students were ever in harm's way.
Kerns had taught at Thomas Jefferson Middle School for more than 30 years.