Today's news in the paper is about Ms Tan Soon Kim, 28, a former principal who pocketed nearly S$19,000 from the PAP Community Foundation Education Centre Bishan branch.
She pleaded guilty to 3 charges of forgery for the purpose of cheating and was jailed for 20 months on Wednesday for criminal breach of trust and forgery.
She had since returned S$12,000 to PCF.
Ms Tan reminded me of a teacher, Ina, whom I had to take over from her, her class in mid-January, more than 15 year ago.
Unlike Ms Tan who misappropriated S$13,269 between February and December 2008; and S$3,836 between January and February 16 last year, Ina's 'takings' was unaccounted for.
The school management's check with parents showed that Ina had been misusing or misappropriating school fees payment for about a year.
Those were the years before GIRO payment went full swing in the school.
The monthly fees of S$45 per student in a class of sometimes up to 40 students added up... Wow wee!!!
She's the form teacher of 2 classes...
The Senior Teacher knew of those parents who were prompt with fees and other payments.
These parents had been sending one by one of their children to study in the same school as their siblings.
The Senior Teacher's 'friendly' phone calls to these parents, enquiring of what's lacking and needed to be done to upgrade the system, led to the 'answers' why suddenly some of these prompt payers suddenly lagging in their children's fees.
Ina was called up by the management to settle whatever monies belonging to the school within 24 hours or police will be informed.
Her brother returned S$1,700 to the school, as was instructed by Ina.
That was her last day and she continued working in another school, a government school.
Picking up the pieces where Ina had left in Mid-January was a nightmare.
A lot of rechecking and rerecording of the attendance registers needed to be done.
Most parents when called up, claimed to have paid the January and December fees but I had only S$3,600 in hand. Added with the returned S$1,700, the sum did not tally to the amount of S$7,200.
When these parents pressed for the receipt of payments that they made through Ina, I had to beat around the bush so as not to let them smell the rat, lest they lost faith in all the teachers.
While Ms Tan used the money to repay her father's debts, Ina used the money to support her lifestyle.
I had always reminded her, a newly married then, who had just bought a house, it's better to sleep soundly in a sparsely furnished home than having nightmare sleep in a fully furnished home.
Alas, she chose the latter.