This comment was made by United States Attorney Josh I. Minkler, who announced Rhondalyn Cornett was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison.
Cornett began her career as an Indianapolis Public Schools teacher in 1994, and continued until she became president of the Indiana Educators Association, a division of the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA). While Indiana Educators Association (IEA) may represent all of the teachers in Indianapolis Public Schools, it is only because teacher union officials greased the palms of willing legislators who turned around and enacted an exclusive representation law for all teachers. This Big Labor Payback forces all teachers to be represented by the majority representative in a district, whether they agree with that representative or not.
Obviously many Indiana school personnel do not, or Indiana Professional Educators would not exist. Indiana has had Right to Work since 1993 for teachers. Any Indiana teacher may exercise their right to refrain from union membership at any time, and explore other professional association options, such as Indiana Professional Educators.
Indianapolis Public Schools, however, remains the largest school district in the Hoosier state.
After becoming president, Cornett embarked upon another career, that of thief. From 2014 until 2018 she embezzled $154,000 by writing checks from the union’s bank account and used a union debit card for personal expenses and to withdraw cash.
She resigned her presidency in 2018 as the missing funds scheme was uncovered by another union member who subsequently filed a notice with the state ISTA affiliate which began an audited IEA’s books and turned the results over to law enforcement.
The Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) took control of IEA’s financial operations at that point, until November 2020. Ronald Swann assumed the presidency.
Cornett pleaded guilty in 2019. She will repay $154,118 and a $100 special assessment. The plea and sentencing follow a joint investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati-Cleveland District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, the FBI, and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police.