School money dispute

Chairman accuses principal of impropriety, wants him removed

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

Monday, April 08, 2019

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The board of an all-age school in western Jamaica has accused the principal of financial impropriety involving just under $2 million and has recommended that the Ministry of Education remove him.

In addition, the board is asking the ministry to use all legal options “to recover all monies, both unaccounted cash and overdraft charges” that they say the principal has “caused the school's account to incur”.

The recommendations were made in an April 2, 2019 letter signed by the school's board chairman and addressed to acting permanent secretary in the ministry Dr Grace McLean.

According to the chairman, the board came to its decision at its meeting on April 1, 2019 after it learnt on February 4 that the principal was not depositing all monies made by the school into its account.

“A report was made to the [regional office] the same day,” the chairman said. “A draft financial audit was done by the regional financial controller on March 13, 2019. This report revealed that between the months of September 2017 and February 11, 2019 $1,919,029 representing cash collected at the school's tuck shop and canteen are unaccounted for.”

Stating that this has “also caused the school to incur unauthorised overdraft charges amounting to $90,512”, the chairman said that a meeting was held on March 18 with officials of the education ministry and the principal “to discuss the audit and provide guidance, while expressing the seriousness of the breaches of the Financial Audit and Administration (FAA) Act”.

He said that when he visited the school on March 29, he found that the principal “has blatantly ignored all instructions given to him to adhere to the FAA Act”. The chairman also said that at the last board meeting the principal refused to answer any questions when he was asked why he was not depositing the school's monies into its account.

“We have taken a decision that we cannot work with someone who doesn't adhere to the FAA Act consistently, and he continues to refuse to adhere to any instructions. As it relates to that, he is working on his own will. So, we can't work with him at all,” the chairman told the Jamaica Observer.

Several attempts by the Observer to get a response from the principal were not successful.

When the Observer contacted Dr McLean late last week she said that the matter is being investigated by the ministry.

“I am currently investigating this matter and will only be able to fully comment once I have the report,” said Dr McLean.

She added that a meeting is being scheduled for sometime this week with the principal to discuss the matter.

She also said that the ministry is “working with the school to address this matter satisfactorily”.


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