IC recommends action against former Spanish Town High principal, bursar
THE INTEGRITY Commission (IC) has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against former principal of the Spanish Town High School, Clayton Hall, and bursar Deranica Williams following an investigation into allegations of impropriety and...
THE INTEGRITY Commission (IC) has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against former principal of the Spanish Town High School, Clayton Hall, and bursar Deranica Williams following an investigation into allegations of impropriety and irregularity surrounding construction activities at the school in 2014.
The commission proposed an audit of the financial transactions to determine the extent of any loss which may have been occasioned by the breach of Section 19 of the Financial Administration Audit Act, and for these funds to be recovered from the accounting/accountable officer and any other officer(s) responsible, consistent with Section 20 of the referenced Act, if they are still employed in the public service.
In its report, the Integrity Commission stated that Hall, in his capacity as accounting officer, failed to ensure that applicable procurement, financial, and accounting policies and procedures were followed during the project’s completion.
This “dereliction of duty”, the commission said, breached Section 19 of the Financial Administration and Audit Act.
Hall, who is a former president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), resigned from the school in August 2015, ahead of a follow-up inspectorate report which had initially branded the school as among five in need of immediate support.
At that time, he had moved to work full time with the JTA as its regional officer in charge of four western parishes.
The Ministry of Education and Youth has also been advised to “consider” the tenure of board chairman, former head of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Joy Douglas, whose involvement in the project was deemed to be “inappropriate and operated to circumvent and undermine the authority of the former principal and the bursar”.
The inquiry was prompted following complaints that Douglas had engaged the services of architect and fine artist Maxine Gibson, and engineer Patrick Reece, who were allegedly her friend and associate, to conduct renovation work at the school.
This was alleged to be done without proper records and without the knowledge and involvement of the other board members.
The complainant further alleged that the project was expected to be completed in January 2015, and that Gibson was being paid $100,000 per month and $30,0000 for travelling.
But in its investigation, the Integrity Commission said it could not adequately determine value for money as at the date when the project was supposed to end, the scope of work was not completed.
Additionally, a site visit in December of that year by the Office of the Contractor General Construction Inspectorate Unit noted several deficiencies in the standard of work, organisation and security.
There was also the admitted absence of a bill of quantities for several areas of the renovations and construction activities at the Spanish Town High School.
The IC further concludes that the total contract sum exceeded the then applicable threshold of $500,000 for the procurement methodology employed.
According to the report, this compilation of facts had the effect of undermining the objectives of value for money, accountability and transparency, which impaired the ability to determine whether the total amount of almost $22 million, which was spent up to the time of termination, reflected value for money.
And although the report noted that no compensation was paid to Douglas, it concluded that she acted beyond her powers and contrary to the “principles of transparency, accountability and good governance”.
The IC is also recommending that all officers at the high school who deal with the administration of the procurement process undergo intensive training in public procurement and contract administration. It also proposes training opportunities for all board members of Spanish Town High to apprise them of their roles, responsibilities and the scope and limitations of their respective authority, so as to prevent a recurrence of the breaches and irregularities.