Honor Student Charged with Felony Theft Over Sunglass Snafu

Teacher accused student of stealing them

By Matt Bartosik
|  Monday, May 17, 2010  |  Updated 8:46 PM CDT
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No good deed goes unpunished, goes the saying.

Such was the case for an Elgin teen who said she was trying to save a pair of glasses from being swiped.

Olivia Raymond, 13, says she found a teacher's pair of expensive sunglasses lying around unprotected. Before she could return them she was accused of theft, according to the Daily Herald.

And because those prescription sunglasses were valued at more than $300, Olivia was arrested on felony charges, fingerprinted, and suspended from school.

The trouble began last Thursday, when Olivia—an honors student at Ellis Middle School who plans to join the armed services—says she found a pair of sunglasses on top of her book bag. She asked a few people whose they were, but no one knew.

Reports the Daily Herald:

"She didn't want to be late to her next class, so she took the glasses with her, planning to put them on a table in front of the main office before lunch, a few periods later, [Olivia's] mother said.

But just a few minutes into second period, [the mother] said, [orchestra teacher Linda] Szybeko came into Olivia's class, said the sunglasses were hers, and accused Olivia of stealing them."

So much for teaching kids about due process.

The school suspended Olivia for the theft, and Szybeko pressed criminal charges.

Police declined to give the Daily Herald full details because the case involves a juvenile.

Olivia's suspension was eventually lifted, but the charges still remain. Olivia's mother, Rochell, alleges that the accusations are racially motivated.

"This teacher [who is white], she looked at my daughter, and she saw African-American and saw a criminal," Rochell told the Daily Herald.

Regardless if the girl is innocent or guilty, one has to question if this "charge first, ask questions later" method was the best example to set for young teens.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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