WAYNE CO., GA (WTOC) - The woman in charge of collecting money for a Wayne County High School senior trip has been arrested, accused of keeping the money for herself.
Jackie Dean is being charged with racketeering and theft. Dean turned herself into the Wayne County Jail on Thursday and is now out on bond.
According to investigators, Dean collected payments from seniors and parents for the trip around Mexican ports and then used some of the money for her own personal use. The parents we spoke to say the arrest doesn't give them much more information than they think they already have. Their biggest question remains, 'why?'
"I remain torn because of the kind of person I thought her to be. I believe she should have been arrested and I believe some sort of punishment should be implemented," said parent, Elizabeth Evans. "We'd been planning this as one of the gifts for the end of his journey through high school."
She's one of nearly 100 parents who found out the money hadn't gone to the cruise line. Another parent, Carla Jackson, did not want to be seen on camera.
"What were some of the things that started red flags," we asked Jackson?
"What stuck out the most was the last payment. I knew it was more than $200, but she said 'we'll just pay $200.' It was like she wasn't keeping a record," Jackson said.
"One part of what I think she should have to do is apologize to these seniors and their parents," Evans said.
Both parents say they're grateful for the way the community rallied to get all the kids on the boat. They say this case would be even more heated if the students had been denied.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still investigating the exact number of victims and the exact amount of money taken. They're still working to quantify total numbers as Dean didn't give receipts in some cases. She was also accepting people's money for the 2019 seniors cruise.
Those affected seniors were still able to travel on the senior cruise, thanks to the community and local businesses who came together to help pay for their tickets.