The Brooklyn Park Police Department charged former Park Center High School activities director Larry Lawler with one count of aggravated felony theft by swindle for more than $1,000 this week, the department confirmed Friday.
Lawler was terminated from his position on April 29 after an investigation found that more than $3,500 had been skimmed off event ticket sales since January.
Barb Olson, District 279’s director of school/community relations, gave three reasons for Lawler’s termination: theft of public funds, failure to hold the appropriate license for his position, and failure to maintain records in accordance with the Minnesota Data Retention Act and the records retention schedule adopted by the school board.
Lawler, who could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, had been Park Center activities director since July 2005 and earned a salary of $106,432. The district said Lawler did not have a Minnesota teaching license but led people to believe he was pursuing one.
“Our investigation and action regarding the former employee has been completed and now is a criminal complaint,” Olson said.
The district also has begun identifying any corrective actions that need to take place and applying safeguards. It found no issues at other District 279 schools and has plans to implement an electronic fee system to limit the amount of cash coming into schools.
Before being hired at Park Center, Lawler was the women’s basketball coach at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, for three seasons until resigning for family reasons. Earlier he was a women’s basketball assistant at Rutgers University for seven seasons.
Robert Carpentier was hired as Park Center’s new activities director on June 13.