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Former B.C. principal stole $170K from Vancouver elementary school, lawsuit claims

Tricia Low accused of stealing gift cards from families in need, using school funds for herself
An ex-principal of Britannia Community Elementary School in Vancouver is facing a lawsuit from the school district, which claims she stole more than $170,000 from the school. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Vancouver School District is accusing one of its former principals of stealing more than $170,000 in funds and donations from the small community elementary school she headed.

In its Jan. 13 claim, the district says it launched an investigation into Tricia Low, formerly Tricia Rooney, in January 2020 after it found a number of anomalies in budget reports at Britannia Community Elementary School.

First opened in the 1970s, the East Vancouver school had 202 students in 2019, 105 of which were Indigenous, 13 of which were learning English as a second language and 24 of which had special needs, according to the latest information available on its site.

Low was the principal there from 2017 until 2020. In that time, the Vancouver School District claims she wrote and cashed cheques to herself, used district purchasing cards to buy personal items and pay off creditors, took gift cards intended for families in need at the school, took cash raised at a school barbeque, and booked and then refunded field trips to her personal account.

All of this amounted to $170,451, according to the civil claim. Broken down, the district says $51,568 was taken from school fundraisers, $48,832 was from wrongful cheques, $39,281 was from district purchasing cards, $17,480 was from refunding school trips, and $13,288 was from the stolen gift cards.

The lawsuit asks the court to order Low to both repay the $170,451 and be given punitive damages.

The district says it asked Low on multiple occasions to justify its findings, and that she has never provided it with an explanation. She has not filed a response to the lawsuit as of publication.

Low worked in the Vancouver School District from 2005 until 2020. Her current occupation is unknown.

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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