A damning report into the financial management of the Merl Grove High School in St. Andrew shows millions of dollars were either misappropriated or unaccounted for at the institution.
The audit carried out by the Ministry of Education for the period September 2017 to August 2020 called for immediate intervention into what was described as a critical situation.
It also found that the school’s leadership was derelict in it’s management of the school’s funds.
The report is replete with a litany of breaches in cash management, some running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In one instance a vice principal, submitted private receipt books of payments totaling almost 700-thousand dollars.
The receipts reflected funds collected and receipted by him and other teachers, which were not submitted to school as it could not be identified by bursary staff.
When questioned, the vice principal could not explain his reasons for collecting funds on behalf of the school nor could he explain why the funds were not submitted.
The report notes that cash of five thousand dollars for each transfer-in application form, were collected from parents
who wished for their children to be transferred into the school.
However, parents were not refunded, if their applications were unsuccessful and when asked, the principal stated that they purchased the papers.
The institution’s 95th Grand Gala also generated expenditure totaling almost two million dollars while only earning a mere 7 thousand dollars in revenue for November 2019.
The report called for an investigation into the matter.
The report notes that these weaknesses and breaches had the effect of funds being misappropriated for protracted periods without being detected, depriving the school of scarce financial resources.
It also noted that funds held at the school for prolonged periods were susceptible to pilferage.
The auditors say that the Principal is responsible for all funds collected and should ensure it is properly receipted and lodged.
The Principal is also to ensure an official receipt is issued forthwith for every sum of monies collected in and on behalf of the school name, using pre-numbered receipt books.
It says Steps should be taken to identify and retrieve all funds for the period 2017 to present and disciplinary action taken for unauthorised and improper collections and payments.
It says a breach of this instruction resulting in a loss of public funds, shall result in the officer who committed the violation being surcharged for the amount of the loss or part thereof as determined by the Board.
Therefore, the board should recover all funds collected in the name of the school and not lodged to the school’s account, and person’s sanctioned.
The report surfaces in a context of a school in crisis which has resulted in the board suspending Principal Dr Marjorie Fullerton.
A Jamaica Observer article on Sunday said battle lines were firmly drawn as Merl Grove past students from the New York and Canadian chapters of their association joined their Jamaican counterparts and parents of current students in demanding the suspension be immediately rescinded.
The past students also said they had no confidence in Chairman David Hall or other board members of the all-girls school on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew.
Attempts to Contact Mr. Hall for comment on the report were unsuccessful.