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Tribunal Finds Excelsior Principal Found Guilty

Tribunal Finds Excelsior Principal Found Guilty
February 01
18:11 2020

Tribunal Finds Excelsior Principal Found Guilty

ON: Thursday, 30 January 2020 –
An Adjudicating Committee impaneled to preside over a hearing into alleged missing monies at Excelsior High School has recommended that Dawn Watters, who was Acting Principal up until September of 2017, be demoted to a position that has no administrative role.

The hearing was brought about on the basis of two charges that were laid against Watters: “Misappropriation and theft of School funds belonging to Excelsior High School during the period June 2017 to November 2018 contrary to Rule 92A(30(b)(xix) and (xxi)”; and “Bringing the teaching profession into disrepute contrary to Rule 92A(1) of the Education (Amendment) Rule, 2012.” Over $100,000 cannot be accounted for at the school.

In its final report, released only two weeks ago, the Committee found that: an audit that was conducted was credible; that Watters is guilty of the charge of misappropriation and theft of school funds on several instances; that she admitted that monies withheld from staff salary for social security and income tax were not paid to social security or income tax on behalf of the staff of the School. Despite her reasons for doing so, she had no authority to do so neither from the board nor from the staff members, and whatever she claimed to have done with the said funds is inconsequential because she had no authority to use the funds for any other purpose.

The Report also found that Watters entered into several contracts for repairs to the school and was unable to show any authority given to her to enter into those contracts. She also could not show that she did any form of tendering or consultation before entering into the contracts and provided no proof of the extent of the work claimed to have been done, particularly on the roof, where most of the funds were allegedly spent.

Additionally, the Committee found that Watters did not provide any supporting documents to show that checks written out to her name were used for the purchase of anything for the school. She also did not rebut, during the adjudication, that she was knowingly paid twice one month and did not return the monies to the school. She also could not provide evidence during the hearing that she had any authority to receive any loan from the school nor any advances. The Commission has found that by withholding the monies from social security and income tax is sufficient to bring the teaching profession into disrepute and has found her guilty of such.

The Committee did find that Watters was brought into the Excelsior system – a school that “is in a very grave state and that it is a school that has fallen through the cracks and as such is open to such abuse as what transpired. The school has been neglected by the Ministry and the Board and as such children have suffered….Mrs. Watters entered a broken system without assistance, guidance or supervision and it could be said she was sent in a situation to fail.”

But, “there are sums of money taken by Mrs. Watters without authorization, justification or subsequent ratification and as such she must be held accountable for what she is unable to justify.”

In its recommendation to have Watters demoted, the Committee reasoned that she did not display the ability to lead, manage or work under any extreme circumstances; that she did not acquaint herself with the necessary policies and procedures; and that she made questionable decisions and cannot be held in a capacity as a principal.

The findings of the Committee will now be forwarded to the Teaching Services Commission and Ministry of Education to determine what further action will be taken.

Watters has been away from the classroom on half pay since the early part of 2019, and another of the recommendations is that she receives half her salary for six more weeks, and that she returns to the classroom thereafter in a new position to be determined.

Watters has been in the teaching profession for 21 years.

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