Former Head of Kansas Teachers Union Charged with Forgery, Theft

Wayne Kruse has some lessons to learn, not just teach. On March 8, Kruse, former president of the Lawrence, Kansas Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, was charged with two counts of forgery and one count of theft in connection to the disappearance of nearly $100,000 in union funds. LEA’s current leadership discovered more than $97,000 missing from about $240,000 in dues deducted from members’ paychecks between November 2003 and August 2004. Sam Rabiola, a high school English teacher who succeeded Kruse as the local president, said he found the group’s finances in disarray. “There were no books,” he remarked. “There were some duplicate check stubs and that was about it. A lot of money had been spent and was unaccounted for.”

Kruse, a sixth-grade teacher who had headed the local union since 1999, would not be long at his job. Rabiola asked the Kansas chapter of the NEA to audit the accounts, and in December the local and state groups went to police. Kruse was suspended from his teaching job this past January, shortly after the local went public with its findings. The case is being prosecuted by adjacent Johnson County rather than Douglas County (Lawrence) because Kruse’s name appeared on a political advertisement supporting Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson in last year’s November elections. [, 3/10/05].