An internal investigation by a Redondo Beach Catholic parish has found that two longtime nuns who worked at the St. James School misappropriated a “substantial” amount of school funds for their personal use over a period of years, according to a letter sent to school families Wednesday.
Msgr. Michael Meyers, the pastor at St. James Catholic Church, said in the letter that the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the nuns’ order, is cooperating with the parish and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to determine exactly how much money was taken by the school’s former principal, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, and former teacher Sister Lana Chang.
Kreuper retired at the end of the 2017-18 school year after nearly 29 years as principal, according to a church newsletter and a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Chang was an eighth-grade teacher for about 20 years and served as vice principal for the last several years, archdiocese spokeswoman Adrian Marquez Alarcon said. Chang retired at the same time as Kreuper.
Meyers said in the letter to parents that the matter came to light during financial reviews that followed a change in leadership at the school. Other staff members were not implicated or responsible, he wrote.
The sisters’ order has agreed to fully reimburse the school and is imposing “appropriate” penalties and sanctions against each of the nuns in accordance with the order’s policies.
The archdiocese declined to pursue criminal charges against Kreuper and Chang with the Torrance Police Department and opted instead to handle the matter internally, Meyers said.
The school has instituted new procedures and oversight policies for its financial management, he wrote.
“I want to assure you that the investigation has disclosed that, notwithstanding this misappropriation, no student or program at St. James has suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities, or innovations,” he wrote. “In sum, the education of your children has not and will not be affected by these events.”
Meyers said Kreuper and Chang expressed “deep remorse” and have asked for forgiveness.
“They and their Order pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school,” he wrote.
The archdiocese is still in the process of investigating the matter, Alarcon said.