Teacher took $40,000 of students' money for her own use
Former head of department convicted of two counts of misappropriating money meant for learning materials
She had been tasked to collect the money that students gave to their English teachers for learning materials.
But the sum she collected was more than what was actually needed.
After paying the woman who ran the school bookshop the sums stated in the invoices for the learning materials, the teacher then misappropriated the remaining money, taking more than $21,000 in 2016 and almost $20,000 in 2017.
Yesterday, the former head of department (HOD) for English and literature at Woodgrove Secondary School was convicted of misappropriating cash from students totalling more than $40,000.
District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam found Maslinda Zainal, 46, guilty of two counts of criminal breach of trust after a trial. She will be sentenced on Feb 24.
She will be sentenced on Feb 24.
The court heard that Maslinda had been tasked to collect the money students gave to their English teachers for learning materials known as Excel packages.
The prosecutors said that Maslinda was entrusted with cash totalling nearly $35,000 in 2016 and more than $36,000 the following year.
But Maslinda paid Madam Cheng Bee Lian, who ran the school bookshop, only about $13,000 in 2016 and $17,000 in 2017, as stated in the invoices. She then misappropriated the remaining sums, taking more than $21,000 in 2016 and almost $20,000 in 2017.
In their submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutors David Koh and Stephanie Chew said Maslinda was "an educator of considerable experience".
She joined the school in 2002 and was appointed HOD four years later.
The prosecutors said: "In her capacity as HOD, she oversaw the collection of student monies by the teachers in the English department for resource packages, and liaised with the bookstore that printed the resource packages.
"The accused was the only one who knew that an excess of monies had been collected from the students - and that what the bookstore was charging was far less than the amounts collected from the students."
Maslinda's offences came to light when a subject head at the school, Madam Jacqueline Chan, found discrepancies between the amount collected by the English department and the sum given in the bookshop's invoice.
In January 2016, Madam Chan asked Madam Cheng to provide her with a copy of the invoices. The court heard that the bookshop operator replied that Maslinda had told her not to hand them over to Madam Chan. But Madam Cheng eventually gave them to the subject head.
The prosecutors said Madam Chan was "quite shocked" when she saw the actual amounts.
She later informed one of the school's vice-principals and the matter was escalated to the principal, who alerted the police on April 17, 2017. Officers arrested Maslinda later that day.
During the course of the trial, all 20 teachers, who effectively constituted the entire English Department of the school at the material time, testified and said Maslinda did not tell them about the excess money being collected.
In police statements, Maslinda admitted to taking the money but said she spent it on her own expenses such as food, and did not invest it or buy anything lavish with it.
She later testified in court that she used the money to purchase stationery and other items for the students.
A Ministry of Education (MOE) spokesman told The New Paper yesterday that Maslinda had been suspended from duty since 2017.
The spokesman added: "MOE takes a serious view of staff misconduct and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to our standards of conduct and discipline, including dismissal from service."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: SAMUEL DEVARAJ