2 May 2018

Police investigate school over financial misconduct

5:23 pm on 2 May 2018

An Auckland primary school is facing a financial investigation by police and education authorities relating to historical "serious misconduct".

Teacher and student at Linwood Primary School, Christchurch.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The school's financial practices have been under review since late last year and a report to the board reveals its information technology system was "compromised".

In a letter to parents yesterday, the Matipo Road School Board of Trustees said it had identified a "series of historical concerns", requesting investigative assistance from the Ministry of Education and New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA).

"The school board raised a number of historical serious misconduct issues with us and we supported them to undertake a forensic audit, asset register [check] and an [information technology] audit," ministry senior manager Katrina Casey said.

The matter was now being handled by police and the ministry said it was unable to comment on the amount of money involved in the investigation.

No current staff were the subject of investigation.

"There is also no risk to school operations or ability to deliver quality educational outcomes for our children," the board of trustees said.

Principal Paul Wright's report to the board in late October reveals the board was aware the school's information and communications technology systems had been compromised and the school was awaiting a detailed audit.

In November, Mr Wright reported that the school was reviewing many aspects of the school's financial practices and in particular was working hard to establish a robust cash-banking system, minimise cash handling, review the asset register, reconcile assets and "review our school bank in light of unsatisfactory performance".

NZSTA was carrying out an external audit of staff files and a number of computers had been seized, he wrote.

The school also looked into upgrading the alarm system and changing the locks at the school.

Mr Wright said in his November principal's report that the school's safety and security systems were not as good as they should be.

It seemed likely that a school water blaster was taken from a locked classroom by a member of staff, he said.

An Education Council sposkesperson said Matipo Road School contacted it for advice in November.

The council was working with the school and other agencies in relation to the serious misconduct issues but was unable to comment while the matter was being investigated.

Police were also unable to comment on this matter.