Seaforth High principal, bursar sent on leave over financial irregularities

Radio Jamaica News has been informed that Principal of Seaforth High School in St. Thomas, Calbert Thomas, and the school's bursar, Noel Williamson, have been sent on leave with immediate effect.  
This follows months of investigation by the Ministry of Education which uncovered a number of financial irregularities at the school, including non-remittance of deductions.
In November last year, teachers staged two days of sit-in at the school to protest the non-payment of deductions.
The decision to send the principal and bursar at Seaforth High School on leave followed a board meeting on Wednesday.
They will remain off the job pending the outcome of investigations by the school's Personnel Committee.
According to a Financial Management report, the school's administrators withheld employees personal deductions and pension payments for the period September 2021 to September 2022.
The total amount withheld for the period was more than $21 million.
The report said the principal and bursar made no attempt to pay over the deductions for the Accountant General's Department and Sagicor Life.
Investigators determined that there was unauthorised overriding of standard internal control mechanisms and blatant breach of government financial management instructions as well as inadequate monitoring of the cash management controls by the school's administrators.
It also found that during the period June to September 2022, payment amounting to more than $900,000 representing reimbursement for mileage to travelling officers was done from the subvention account.
No budgetary provision was made in the subvention account for mileage reimbursement.
The Financial Management report said the principal and bursar were reimbursed mileage from the subvention on September 30, 2022 before considerations were given to remit the personal deductions of employees.
The report recommended that disciplinary proceedings be considered against the principal and bursar as their failure to remit employees' personal deductions resulted directly from their neglect of duties.
It was also disclosed to Radio Jamaica News that the principal, Calbert Thomas, received a salary advance of $100,000 from the school's account, which he has since reimbursed.
The Ministry of Education raised concern after it was discovered that Mr. Thomas signed the cheque for the salary advance.
When contacted by Radio Jamaica News on Thursday morning, Education Minister Fayval Williams confirmed that the Board of Seaforth High met on Wednesday. But she said she has not yet received a written report on the outcome of the meeting.

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