Bet the unions will be all over this – like they would if it was a charter school…

Surely the unions should be all over this, theft of school monies by a staff member, taking that cash from the kiddies…oh wait, it’s not a charter school.

Children at a small Taranaki school are without a playground or a school van because a former member of staff helped herself to nearly half its operating budget over three years.

Nikau Hohaia took $100,000 while working as an administrator at the Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Tamarongo at Opunake.

As a result the decile three school was unable to pay the repair bill on its van and has not been able to replace a playground that had to be demolished, Hawera Court heard on Monday.

But because the 34-year-old mum of two has no income she will not have to repay the money – a decision criticised by the school trustees, who say justice has not been served.

If the trustees had been vigilant from the get go then surely they would have noticed 50% of the school’s operating budget disappearing for no discernible benefit? Or is it whitey’s fault for that as well?

Hohaia was employed as an administrator but four months into her job began writing cheques which she cashed or banked in her own account.

She also went on shopping trips using the school’s credit card on many occasions between 2012 and September 2015.

“You have deprived your tamariki of educational skills, conflict resolution skills learned in the playground, and opportunity of school trips.” Judge Lynne Harrison told Hohaia when she jailed her for 22 months.

Hohaia had admitted four fraud charges at an earlier appearance. These represented 102 individual offences carried out over three years.

A police summary stated that Hohaia’s job as administrator included paying the kura’s bills by direct debit, cheque, Bizlink credit card or booking it on a business account.

In the cheque butts she wrote legitimate business transactions to deceive the kura, but made the cheques out to herself or to cash.

On some cheques she added false details, including wages and holiday pay, to make them appear legitimate.

During the three years she bought personal items including a chest freezer, juicer, two Samsung Galaxy tablets,  clothing, household items, Christmas decorations and gifts, confectionary, fishing equipment, fireworks and grocery-type items.

Eventually some anomalies were noticed in the accounts and the offending was revealed.

Clearly, there were lax or non-existent financial controls at this school.

The teacher unions should be calling for this school to be shut-down, they certainly would if it was a charter school.

 

– Fairfax

 


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