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City librarian charged with theft loses bid for jobless benefits

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City librarian charged with theft loses bid for jobless benefits

Mar 29, 2024 | 5:43 pm ET
By Clark Kauffman
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City librarian charged with theft loses bid for jobless benefits
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(Photo by Getty Images)

A city librarian who is criminally charged with stealing baseball-concession revenue from a booster club is not entitled to unemployment benefits, an Iowa judge has ruled.

According to state records, Erin Fraker, 41, worked for the City of Bancroft from June 2022 through December 2023 when she was fired from her position as the city’s full-time library director.

On Dec. 27, 2023, Fraker was criminally charged with second-degree theft in Kossuth County. Police records allege Fraker was responsible for the revenue collected from the concessions sold at the Bancroft baseball diamond during the summer and had never deposited the money with the North Union Booster Club.

According to police, when Fraker was confronted, she initially claimed she had all of the money, but later revised her version of events and said the money had been stolen. At some point, the police report states, Fraker admitted that she had stolen the estimated $5,820 in concession revenue.

The day after county prosecutors filed the theft charge, Fraker wrote to the library board about her arrest. According to state workforce records, she sent the board a text message that said, “I am offering up my resignation if you need to accept it. The last thing I want is for the library to take a hit as it’s in such good standing. I’m open to training and helping as much as allowed even if its via Zoom, Facetime or phone call.”

The president of the library board reportedly replied to Fraker’s text with a message that stated, “Thank you for reaching out. We are meeting as a board and will be in touch with you then.”

According to workforce records, Fraker wrote to the board again on Jan. 4, 2024, rescinding her offer to resign and stating, “I am choosing to withdraw the offer to resign. As this incident has no bearing on by job performance, I cannot allow this to control my life or identity. I’m willing to stand up and fight to repair what I have done and regain trust and integrity for myself and my family.”

The board then held a special meeting, and on Jan. 8, 2024, the board president sent Fraker a text message informing her the board had accepted her resignation.

Franker then applied for unemployment benefits, which the city contested. That led to a hearing a before Administrative Law Judge Carly Smith, who recently ruled in the city’s favor and denied Fraker’s application for unemployment benefits.

Smith noted that the courts have held that when an employee voluntarily resigns, and the employer refuses to accept a subsequent withdrawal of the resignation, the employee is considered to have voluntarily quit without good cause.

A jury trial in Fraker’s criminal case is scheduled for April 9.

Other unemployment cases

Other Iowans whose unemployment cases were recently decided include:

— Samantha Baum, a registered nurse who was working as the full-time director of nursing at the Belle Plaine Specialty Care nursing home in January when she was fired. The home’s owner, Care Initiatives, alleged that Baum had ignored a nurse practitioner’s order for an increase in the quantity of food to be given a resident.

When questioned by her superiors, Baum allegedly asserted the nurse practitioner had agreed to leave the food quantity unchanged — and to support this claim, she allegedly presented a second order from the nurse practitioner to that effect.

Administrative Law Judge James Timberland found that Baum, in an effort to conceal her own actions, had asked the nurse practitioner to approve a back-dated order to keep the food quantity at the same level. He denied Baum’s request for unemployment benefits, ruling that she “engaged in dishonest behavior by manipulating the medical provider into issuing a backdated order.”

— Dana Rosacker, who worked as a full-time paraeducator for the Marshalltown Community School District from January 2012 to November 2023, when she was fired. The district alleged that on Nov. 15, 2023, Rosacker became frustrated with a special education student when the teacher in the classroom saw the child hit Rosacker.

According to the district, the teacher also observed Rosacker respond by striking the child on the forehead with her open palm. The child immediately began crying and Rosacker allegedly turned to the teacher and said, “I did not hurt him.”

When questioned by district officials, Rosacker allegedly admitted raising her hand to the child’s face but denied any physical contact. She was subsequently fired and was then denied unemployment benefits with Administrative Law Judge Patrick Thomas ruling that the evidence indicated she either struck, or imitated striking, a special education student.

— Troy Cavil, who worked for the Des Moines Independent Community School District from August 2019 through October 2023, when he resigned. At the time of his resignation, Cavil was a full-time campus monitor at Lincoln High School. On Oct. 10, 2023, he engaged in a verbal altercation with a student who had been acting out and was aggressively wrestling with another student. While taking the offending student to an office, Cavil and the youth exchanged words.

Later, the district initiated an investigation into an allegation that Cavil had told the student he might have his sons address the student’s behavior – an allegation Cavil denied. The district ultimately determined Cavil failed to maintain a satisfactory and harmonious work environment, acted in a manner that endangered the safety of another person, and made threats. The district allegedly allowed Cavil to resign to avoid being fired in a manner that would be publicly disclosed.

Administrative Law Judge Alexis Rowe recently awarded Cavil unemployment benefits, stating that it appeared likely Cavil’s comments were misinterpreted by someone who had overheard them. The school district, the judge ruled, had not met its burden of establishing any type of misconduct that would disqualify Cavil from collecting benefits.