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Olmsted principal on paid leave after admitting insurance fraud

A Buffalo school principal has been placed on paid administrative leave after pleading guilty this week to a misdemeanor charge of insurance fraud.

Parette Walker, principal at Olmsted School 64 on Amherst Street, could face up to a year in jail when she is sentenced Feb. 10, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.

When asked Friday about Walker’s status at the school, Buffalo Public Schools released this statement: “The district was notified that Parette Walker pled guilty to misdemeanor insurance fraud in Buffalo City Court. Upon notification, the district placed Ms. Walker on paid administrative leave, per district policy, pending the outcome of court proceedings.”

The school is adequately staffed at this time, the district said.

Walker, 53, of Lancaster, served as assistant principal at Olmsted since 2002, before being appointed principal at the beginning of the school year to replace Nora Trincanati, who retired.

Walker was accused of committing insurance fraud by falsely collecting disability benefits from her private insurance company.

The case stems from when Walker had shoulder surgery in 2014 and was collecting roughly $2,000 a month while off work in June, July and August. She returned to work, but continued to collect the disability benefits from her private insurer through December of that year.

Walker was charged after an investigation by the state Department of Financial Services, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Walker already has repaid the roughly $9,000 she collected from First Unum Life Insurance Co., said Joel L. Daniels, her attorney.

She pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree insurance fraud before City Court Judge Kevin J. Keane.

“She is very well liked and admired by students and staff,” Daniels said. “Her union is representing her in negotiations with the board. We are hopeful she will be returned to her job.”

email: jrey@buffnews.com