Susquenita High School teacher — daughter of the district superintendent — accused of stealing cash, gift card from student’s purse

Tara Smith

PENN TOWNSHIP, Perry County — A Susquenita High School math teacher is accused of stealing cash and a gift card from a student’s purse, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Tara Smith, 34, of Harrisburg, is charged with theft, access device fraud and receiving stolen property in connection with an incident that happened on January 9, police say.

Smith is the daughter of Susquenita School District superintendent Kent R. Smith, according to the superintendent’s biography page on the school district website.

According to police, the student’s father reported the theft on Jan. 10. He reportedly told officers that his daughter’s white Coach purse was removed from the classroom sometime between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The purse allegedly contained a white Coach wallet, $250 in cash, a Victoria’s Secret gift card and other miscellaneous cards, according to the criminal complaint.

The victim’s father gave police a receipt with the Victoria’s Secret card number on it, the criminal complaint says.

Police contacted Victoria’s Secret Special Handling and requested information on the stolen card on Jan. 11, the criminal complaint says.

On Jan. 25, Victoria’s Secret Special Handling contacted police with the results of its investigation, which indicated that Smith used the card to purchase items, which she had shipped to her home, according to the criminal complaint.

Police interviewed Smith on Jan. 26, the criminal complaint says. She allegedly admitted to taking the victim’s purse and using the gift card to purchase items at Victoria’s Secret, according to the criminal complaint. Smith allegedly told police that she threw the purse, wallet and remaining items in the trash, the criminal complaint says.

Smith said she did not spend the $250 in cash, which was transported back to the Pennsylvania State Police Station in Newport and placed into evidence, according to the criminal complaint.

Charges against Smith were filed on Monday, police say.

The school district confirmed that Smith has been a teacher there since 2012. When asked if Smith was on any type of leave following the incident, a school district spokesperson said the district does not discuss personnel matters.

A 2012 Pennlive.com article reported that the Susquenita School Board waived the school district’s anti-nepotism policy when it hired Smith and five other employees with relatives on the district’s staff or board.

Kent Smith, who was hired by the district in July of 2012, told Pennlive at the time that he had no involvement in his daughter’s hiring.