Wednesday, March 6 was a beautiful, if cold, day in Coleman, Fla. Temps topped out in the mid-60s, which would be the coolest day of a week that saw the temperature jump into the mid-70s. It was only mildly cloudy.
It was into this that Linda Schrenko, once leader of all Georgia’s schools and a candidate for governor, walked from a minimum security federal prison in Coleman.
Hers is a name seldom mentioned, but I hope Google, Bing and Yahoo will help here ensure that anyone checking up on Linda Schrenko will easily find the crimes she committed against the citizens – and the children – of Georgia.
Schrenko, in 1994, defeated an incumbent to become the first woman elected to statewide office in the history of Georgia. That was good.
Everything else was bad.
Some of Schrenko’s policies in education were silly – pushing for teaching creationism as science, for instance, or opposing the Criterion Referenced Competency Test, or CRCT. Those were just politics. What really broke the state were her felonies.
Schrenko embezzled $600,000 in federal funds intended to support programs for honors students and, worse of all, two schools for the deaf in Georgia. She took the money to fund her failed bid for governor (Sonny Perdue ultimately won) and to pay for thousands of dollars worth of plastic surgery on her pretty face – $9,300 to be precise.
After pleading guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering in 2006, Schrenko was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay $414,000 in restitution – just a couple hundred thousand less than what she took from Georgia’s children, who it was she had been elected twice to represent.
Her prison sentence is up Aug. 21, 2014, after which she will serve another three years of probation. Until then, she’s been sentenced to home confinement. Rather a slap on the wrist for the despicable nature of her crimes, it seems.
Our memories of Schrenko should always be of her remade face and fur coats, her denunciation of advancing the interest of the students she was elected to serve, her taciturn effort to become governor, and ultimately, the crime she perpetrated against our state’s children.
Hell, she’ll probably be our next governor yet.