Teacher mishandled school funds

A SACKED primary headteacher was “cavalier and slapdash” with school funds –  including failing to declare a £200 donation from a parent, a hearing has been told.
Gillian Neeson also claimed to have spent hundreds of pounds on staff room furniture which actually came from a home she was selling, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) was told.
A PRIMARY headteacher was “cavalier and slapdash” with school funds – including failing to declare a £200 donation from a parent, a hearing has been told.
Mrs Neeson, who was sacked by Argyll and Bute Council,  claimed ferry trips she was not entitled to, expenses for school trips she did not attend, and failed to record a cash donation from a councillor or to account for the money.
At the hearing in Edinburgh yesterday (WED), Mrs Neeson admitted the facts of several of the charges against her but her lawyer denied she had acted dishonestly.
She could be banned from the classroom if the GTCS, following a hearing expected to take six days, finds she is unfit to teach.
The hearing continues at the GTCS
Mrs Neeson, who was headteacher at the school from 2009 until her dismissal in 2013, faces a total of eight charges.
A clerical assistant at the primary school, Marie Glancy, gave a written statement to the hearing in which she stated:  “In my experience previous head teachers were always very professional with finances.
“Her attitude towards money was slapdash and very cavalier. She didn’t keep written notes or documentation of money.”
Fiona Johnston, Argyll and Bute council’s quality improvements officer, told the hearing: “I believe Mrs Neeson was aware of what she was doing. There were too many occasions when actions were taken by Mrs Neeson which she could not explain or which came to light as being inaccurate.”
She added: “Around May 2013, three of the largest schools in my area were subjected to an internal audit which raised a number of financial inaccuracies at St. Muns so an internal investigation was necessary.
“Miss Neason submitted her claim form [for] six months of expenses including a ferry ticket for £73.
“On investigation we found the tickets had already been purchased by the school as the ticket numbers were the same. At the investigation Mrs Neeson said she had put in the wrong details.
“There were four claims relating to travelling to meetings. Minutes showed that Miss Neeson hadn’t attended these meetings or had been present through a video link instead.”
Gillian Neeson repeatedly mishandled school cash, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) was told.
The witness said that on 8th February 2013, £400 in cash was given to Mrs Neeson from the London trip account.
“When reminded about the £400, Mrs Neeson said…she had used it to purchase a table and chair from Homebase for the staff room that cost between £200 and £275. She finally settled at £220,” she said.
When the table arrived at the school “it was not new and was covered in scratches” said Ms Johnston.
She added:  “Mrs Neeson was in the middle of selling her home at the time and photographs on Rightmove showed the same table in her home.”
Mrs Neeson’s solicitor, Alastair Milne, read out the conclusion from Argyll and Bute’s disciplinary hearing in which he said investigators found “bad administration” at the school but that Mrs Neeson had not acted “inappropriately or dishonestly”.
Mr Milne said there was evidence of problems going back to 2005, four years before Mrs Neeson started at the school, and that ferry tickets had been bought for other members of staff.
Mrs Neeson admits  that on February 8 2013, she took possession of £400 in cash, collected for a pupils’ trip to London, but denies asking for the money.
She also admits that between 23 August 2012 and 5 March 2013 using funds from the School’s General Purpose Fund Account to purchase ferry tickets to travel from work to home but denies acting dishonestly.
She admits between 30 October 2012 and 22 March 2013 claiming duplicate ferry ticket claims but again denies dishonesty.
Also admitted is that between May 8 2013 and June 27 2013, she failed to record a cash donation of £200 from a pupil’s step parent to the school.
And she admits  failing to log a donation – the amount of which was not disclosed – given to her from public official, Councillor McQueen, and failing to show what the money was spent on.
The hearing continues.

Previous articleIrvine Welsh vows never to retire
Next articleExpat Scots can have ashes buried in homeland