Former HOD at Woodgrove Secondary School found misappropriating S$40,000 in student funds

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A former Head of Department for English at Woodgrove Secondary School was found guilty on Monday (Jan 11) of misappropriating S$40,000 paid by students for learning materials.

Maslinda Zainal, 46, had a gross monthly salary of S$8,800, and was in charge of collecting money submitted by students to their English teachers for learning materials.

However, she over-collected about S$40,000 from the students between January 2016 and April 2017.

According to police statements, Maslinda admitted to taking about S$39,000 to S$40,000 and spending the money on food. She also added that she did not buy anything lavish with it. She testified in court that she had used the money to buy stationery and other items for the students.

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Maslinda, who has a Masters in Education, said she did not keep records of the cash collected as nobody told her she needed to.

On Monday (Jan 11), Maslinda was convicted of two counts of criminal breach of trust as a public servant after a trial that spanned almost two years.

“I find that the accused has misappropriated the entrusted monies and I find that there is dishonesty on her part,” said District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam, according to a TODAY Online report.

How she was caught

Jacqueline Chan, the school’s lower-secondary head for English asked the bookshop seller on the first day of school in 2016 for a copy of the invoices for the books, but found out that Maslinda had told the seller not to give them to Ms Chan.

When Ms Chan eventually obtained a copy of the invoices, she realised there was a discrepancy between the amounts being collected by the teachers and the amounts on the invoices.

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The issue was raised to the principals, Ministry of Education (MOE) investigators and then the police.

All 20 teachers in the school’s English department testified in court during the course of the trial, and they said Maslinda did not tell them about the excess money being collected.

For criminal breach of trust as a public servant, Maslinda could be jailed up to 10 years and fined for each charge.

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