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Librarian Accused of Embezzlement Placed on Leave

A Redding School District librarian accused of embezzlement and theft from a parent club and school has been placed on leave, a district administrator said Friday morning.

Wanell Stolz had been working as an information specialist for Cypress and Juniper elementary schools. Parents at those schools were surprised and upset to learn this week of her employment there, said Heather Waldrop, vice president of the Cypress Elementary School Parent Club.

Redding School District Superintendent Diane Kempley confirmed through an assistant that Stolz is on leave. She declined to comment further, saying it is a personnel issue. She could not address whether the leave is paid or unpaid.

Stolz, 51, is facing charges that she embezzled and stole $13,500 worth of cash and property from Sycamore Elementary School and its Parent Faculty Club from 2004 to September 2009. Stolz — who was arrested Aug. 4 — was the school’s librarian and treasurer of the parent faculty club at the time. Stolz is married to Rein Stolz, president of the Redding School District board of trustees.

Redding police allege that the librarian wrote about 80 checks to herself and her husband using the parent club checking account, according to the Redding Record Searchlight. She also bought equipment for the club using her own money but allegedly reimbursed herself for amounts greater than the cost of the items.

The district board met in closed session Wednesday night to discuss employee evaluations, the newspaper reported. Rein Stolz was not present at the meeting. Kempley’s assistant confirmed Friday that Rein Stolz is still board president.

“I’m surprised that he hasn’t stepped down,” Waldrop said. “Regardless of innocence, there’s a criminal investigation going on, and he’ll be a key witness. Someone in the midst of that should not be directing the school administrators.”

Parents plan to express concerns and raise questions at Tuesday night’s Redding School District board meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in Cypress Elementary School’s cafeteria.

One of their concerns is allegations that the Sycamore principal was pressured to change some of Wanell Stolz’s negative performance evaluations to reflect a more positive tone, Waldrop said. Kempley has denied those allegations to the Searchlight.

“We want to have those allegations investigated,” Waldrop said. “It’s a concern to me that the district might have allowed someone with repeated poor yearly evaluations to continue working. It’s up to our school administrators to ensure that everybody who works for the district is performing at the highest level possible.”

A News CafĂ© has e-mailed Rein Stolz, seeking comment from him or Wanell, but had not received an answer as of publication. The district office declined to provide the Stolzes’ unlisted phone number.

Redding police have said Wanell Stolz apologized numerous times, offering to repay the club, and saying she had been “overwhelmed” with things going on in her life, according to the newspaper.

Candace L. Brown is a freelance reporter in Redding.

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