California School Board Hopeful Once Arrested for Child Abduction

A candidate for a school board in Northern California acknowledged she was once arrested for abducting four girls from a bus stop, but said she was under "mental duress" at the time and had meant no harm.

Alvina Sheeley, 70, is one of eight candidates on the November ballot for the Fairfield-Suisun school board seat. She pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the abduction in 1998.

Lindsey McWilliams, assistant registrar of voters for Solano County, said Sheeley is eligible to run for the seat, despite her background. The requirements state that candidates must be 18 or older and registered to vote, must not be a convicted felon or on felony parole and live in the jurisdiction.

Sheeley, a former high school Spanish teacher, told The Daily Republic of Fairfield that she had meant no harm. She was on leave from her job at Fairfield High Schoool when she tried to gain custody of a girl whom she knew through family in her hometown of Alton, Ill.

The girl's mother refused to give custody to Sheeley, who then took the child and three others, ages 8 to 12. She told the girls she was taking them to California for a better life.

Sheeley spent more than a year in a federal psychiatric hospital. She was put on probation after she was released in June 2000, and placed under the watch of a state officer and a doctor until her discharge eight years later.

"I am sorry that I did it," Sheeley told the newspaper. "The counseling that I received and the medical care helped me to understand why I did what I did."

Some of her former colleagues were dismayed that she could still run for the office.

"I think it's horrendous that someone arrested for kidnapping kids is running for school board," said teacher Frank Billecci.