The Teacher Service Commission has come to the defense of Lavington Girls Secondary School principal over corruption and gross misconduct.
The employer said it could not just interdict a teacher on blinded claims unless advised by the Ministry.
Head of Communication Beatrice Wababu said on receiving a copy of the allegations from the board, it deployed its officers who partnered with DCI and Ministry officials to conduct investigations.
“Upon conclusion, we established that the claims are baseless but instigated by the deputy principal and a few board members. To us this is a matter of bad blood and not gross misconduct as claimed,” she said.
This is after the board of the school petitioned TSC to interdict the teacher over several claims of nepotism, corruption and abuse of office.
According to the board, the principal Judith Ombima employed her sister as the cateress and Matron of the school.
The board also stated that she has employed her sister-in-law as a cook and resides in the school.
They also said her brother and husband to the matron is employed as a temporary worker for painting and grass cutting and given a residence at the school.
According to the board, the alleged relatives are earning more than other staff who have been at the school for a long time.
Ombima is also accused of employing a bursar knowing that she is the sister to the immediate previous bursar who left the school.
The board said the bursar who doubles up as the school’s store supervisor lacks integrity and accountability as an accountant and supervisor.
The board said the principal has on numerous occasions misappropriated school funds for personal gain or use.
They said the principal hires the school grounds over the weekends for functions including weddings but the monies collected are neither declared nor banked into the Lavington Girls Secondary School bank accounts and instead are sent directly to her mobile number.
According to the board the principal received over Sh400,000 last year directly to her phone from ground hire.
“For the months of April 2020 – August 2020 alone she has received Sh75,000 directly from parents hiring grounds for weddings,” the document read.
These transactions are said to be captured through cash payments through the bursar or directly to her M-Pesa accounts.
The board said the principal continues to receive large amounts of school fees paid by the parents in cash which goes against the Ministry of Education directive and these payments are not banked into the school accounts.
She is said to have received donations in terms of funds towards school development directly as cash or monies sent to her mobile phone but has not disclosed the same to the BOM nor deposited the funds to the school bank accounts for accountability.
“The Kenya High School donated 200 used mattresses for free to be given to the needy children of the school which were sold to parents at a price of Sh500,” the report reads.
But Wababu said, “TSC cannot just interdict a teacher without a formal report from the ministry of education. We followed the matter keenly and from the audited reports, there was no evidence to demonstrate that funds had been misappropriated”.
She added, “The said principal is headed for retirement by end of January next year. But a report filed by the ministry indicates an issue of bad blood with her deputy”.
She said TSC cannot thus meddle in personal issues.
She, however, cautioned the board at the school against politicizing the matter because when it escalates, it might affect the students seeking education.
“The board must in its wisdom mediate the matter and enable an avenue to reconcile the principal with her juniors,” she said.
The deputy principal Mrs Janet however dismissed the claims.
She said she was not aware of what was happening but only learned of it when DCI, Ministry officials and TSC visited the school.
“As a deputy principal, I only sit in the board meeting on behalf of the principal when she has asked me to take notes on her behalf. Otherwise, my roles are limited as to when it comes to management,” she said.
Though she did not confirm or dismiss whether she has fallen apart with her principal, Mrs Janet said she could not comment on the matter since she is not allowed to speak.
We reached out to the principal who said she was ambushed by DCI officers, officials from the ministry and TSC on September 17 when they stormed the school and conducted investigations.
Ombima said she could not comment on the matter since her employer had not responded after the investigations were done.
But she said trouble started when lockdown found her at her rural place. Since March when schools were closed to Mid-August the principal was at her rural home.
“I am the founding principal of this school. For the last 11 years I have been here and had a very good working relationship with the board whose chairman has not changed since we started,” she said.
“I have been a teacher for the last 36 years and this is my third school as a headteacher. This allegations being thrown against me I can for sure say it is by mischievous people who are disgruntled,” she added.
Ombima said the board chairman Lazurus Kimanga had ganged up with her deputy principal and a few board members to eject her from the school.
She said the chairman who has been dodging meetings colluded with other 6 out of 14 board members, crafted the allegations and forwarded them to TSC demanding her interdiction.
We reached out to the chairman but our calls and text messages remained unanswered.
“As we speak, things that should be happening have stalled because I need the board to make a decision. How am I going to engage with a team that wants me out,” she posed.
She said going forward, TSC will have to advise and spell out conditions on engagement with the board.
“In my service, I have never had controversies. When you are in the world of administration you need a big heart because such things like these allegations can easily break you down,” she said.
Ombima said when she took over the school, it was a mixed day school but later changed it to a girls school.
“99 per cent of our children come from Kawangware. I am proud that currently, we have 657 students out of whom the majority are boarders,” she said.