NEW GARDEN >> The woman who led the Tick Tock Early Learning Center in Toughkenamon for eight years has been charged by police with theft and receiving stolen property.

Jackie Maas, 60, of East Marlborough Township, turned herself in to police on Jan. 16 and was released on $25,000 unsecured bail by District Justice Mathew Seavey of Avondale District Court.

Maas, who separated from the center last summer, was the subject of a recent month-long investigation by police after representatives of Tick Tock reported property valued at $3,500 was allegedly stolen by her while she was working there.

Last August, the report said, Tick Tock and Maas began an employment separation process. According to the police report, Maas had possession of property and proceeds that belonged to Tick Tock that needed to be returned, and both parties agreed on that. On the list of stolen property were donated funds that she received and property she purchased with that money after she separated from the organization,

Police said after attempts to amicably settle the matter failed, representatives from Tick Tock Early Learning Center reported the incident to them.

Following that report, police obtained a search warrant and searched Maas’s home where they found property that reportedly belonged to the early learning center.

She was charged with theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property, all felony charges.

According to United Way of Southern Chester County Executive Director Carrie Freeman, the incident with Maas is not criminal, but rather a misunderstanding, however.

“We are proud to be funders of the Tick Tock Early Learning Center. There is no impropriety in the donations,” Freeman said.

Freeman added that she has no concerns about the accounting of how the United Way allocations were spent.

“There was absolutely no organizational malfeasance. Jackie Maas nobly led that organization for eight years. We hope this misunderstanding will be resolved quickly.

Tick Tock Early Learning Center is one of the top agencies receiving funding from the United Way of Southern Chester County, last year receiving $110,000.

The Center is located in the 1600 block of Baltimore Pike. According to a bulletin published by the Kennett Friends Meeting, the Tick Tock Early Learning Center arose out of the concern of four members of Kennett Meeting, Sally Lighty, Connie Nichols, Jean Tennant and Jane Vincenti to have a “Head Start” program for the disadvantaged pre-schoolers of the area. This began in 1961, two years before there was a federal program across the nation.

It is located in a building that was formerly called Tic Toc, but the name was changed to prevent confusion with the original business.

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