Maslinda Zainal, the head of the English Department at Woodgrove Secondary School has been accused of two counts of criminal breach of trust for reportedly pocketing more than $40,000 which students paid for their materials.
The first day of her trial was on Wednesday, November 28.
From January to December 2016, Zainal was supposed to have misappropriated over $21,000 in cash from the students of Woodgrove Secondary School, and in the first four months of 2017, she allegedly took around $20,000 more.
Zainal, who has been working for the school since 2002, has been the Head of the English Department since 2006. As Head, it was part of her duties to collect payments from pupils for “Excel packages,” which are learning materials prepared by the school’s faculty. Zainal was supposed to have only turned over a portion of the payment to the school bookshop, and pocketed the rest, amounting to around $40,000.
Zainal’s misappropriation of funds was eventually discovered by one of the subject heads of Woodgrove Secondary, Jacqueline Chan Yen Ling, as she noticed the difference in the amount collected from the students as opposed to what was given to the bookshop.
The principal of the school, Chee Chit Yeng, testified that Chan asked the owner of the bookshop about this, who showed her the invoices. Chee then investigated the matter and found that the discrepancy reached $40,000.
The principal expressed his great surprise concerning this to the presiding judge, Ng Cheng Thiam. He said, “Personally, I was quite shocked that there was such a large over-collection.”
Chee proceeded to disclose this to the discipline unit of the Education Ministry and also filed a police report in April 2017.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Education told The Straits Times that it takes such matters very seriously but that they are not able to discuss details of the case since it is now a court matter.
Zainal is currently out on a $30,000 bail, and her trial is set to continue today, November 29, 2018. If found guilty of the charges, she could be jailed for up to ten years, as well as pay a fine for each of the two charges.