A School District 2 administrator has resigned after school officials and the police opened an investigation into the theft of district property.
SD2 administrators confirmed Tuesday that Dulce Whitford resigned after officials learned that district equipment had been sold to an area pawn shop.
"We had received information that district property had been pawned," said Jeana Lervick, SD2's executive director of human resources.
Late last week, a Billings Police Department investigation was launched and the district opened its own internal investigation. The district found "small technology" and electronics had gone missing.
Whitford "was placed on leave and has since resigned from the school district," Lervick said.
She was SD2's director of Indian Education For All, the state-mandated curriculum program that teaches American Indian culture and history in the classroom.
She had been with the district since 2009 and was paid an annual salary of $94,092.
Police first learned of a possible theft on Nov. 8 after SD2 electronics had shown up at First National Pawn.
"This was brought to our attention via another school district employee," Iffland said.
Whitford was also well liked and respected in the district. In 2011, she was named Montana Indian Educator of the Year. She was cited for her work in Billings and in Great Falls, where she taught for several years before joining SD2. She also had taught summer school, incorporating Indian culture into lessons for students.
"She did a really nice job with our kids," said Superintendent Terry Bouck. "She effectively straddled two cultures."
Whitford encouraged and celebrated the successes of Native American students through programs like an annual barbecue each spring where American Indian students graduating from high school were celebrated and the high-achievers awarded eagle feathers.
Her departure from the district and the circumstances surrounding it will leave a huge void in terms of the connections she had fostered with students and staff, Bouck said.
"She had a lot to offer the department," he said.
As such, the district will make "every effort to fill the position."
"What's at stake is our Native American kids and the Native American community," he said.
Whitford on Tuesday could not be reached for comment.