Ex-Whittier principal charged for misusing funds

Anne DePerry used district credit card for personal purchases, Hennepin County attorney says

A former Whittier International Elementary School principal has been charged with three felony counts of theft by swindle for using a Minneapolis Public Schools credit card for personal expenditures.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced the charges against Anne DePerry on Wednesday. DePerry used her MPS credit card for more than $11,000 in purchases for personal use and another $5,000 that was unaccounted for or suspicious, according to the county attorney’s office.

Per the county attorney’s office:

A random audit by the school district in October 2015 turned up a charge on DePerry’s MPS credit card at a hat store overseas. The auditor looked at six weeks of charges by DePerry and found that others were for non-school-related expenses.

DePerry told the auditor she must have accidentally used the wrong card and offered to write a check for the $1,700 in charges turned up over the period.

A complete audit found that DePerry made $11,830 in non-school-related charges from December 2013 through September 2015. It also found another $5,440 in charges that were suspicions but could not be completely ruled out as school related.

The auditor told the Minneapolis police investigator that it was unlikely DePerry could have charged the items by mistake.

DePerry resigned her position with MPS on Nov. 11, 2015. The district sent a letter to parents a week later, saying that she had “grossly misused public taxpayer funds.”

In October, Lu See Kwik, a parent with a student enrolled at Livermore Valley Charter School in Livermore, Calif., contacted the Southwest Journal about the school’s new principal, E. Anne Anderson. Kwik said she believed E. Anne Anderson was actually DePerry, and that she had grown concerned about the new principal after reading news accounts in the Minneapolis press about DePerry’s alleged misuse of a district credit card.

A subsequent check of Hennepin County District Court records showed DePerry had applied for a name change in April. In May, Judge Regina Chu issued an order granting the name change, which was subsequently forwarded to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.

In October, the East Bay Times newspaper reported that Livermore Valley Charter School officials rescinded their offer to hire Anderson after parents brought to light the allegations leveled against her while a Minneapolis principal.

DePerry, 55, was originally hired by the district in 1993 and became principal of Whittier in July 2012.

She will make her first court appearance Thursday.

Two of the counts of theft by swindle carry maximum sentences of five years and or $10,000. The third count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and or $20,000.

— Dylan Thomas contributed to this report