School worker in court over missing cash

Police probe
Police probe

A third case of financial irregularities in two years concerning the schools sector has been identified by the council’s spending watchdog.

But town hall bosses are remaining tight-lipped over the latest missing cash case, after details emerged in an audit committee report.

Councillors have been told that a school staff member was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and 150 hours community service over a “financial irregularity” at a borough educational establishment.

When contacted by the Wigan Post though, Wigan Council refused to reveal the identity of the staff member, where he or she worked or even which school suffered the loss. The staff member was said to have resigned during a disciplinary investigation.

Council auditors flagged up the issues of school funds as a “significant internal control” problem back in July last year.

One school business manager in Wigan was recently sacked for gross misconduct after an inquiry regarding missing funds with action taken to recoup the “maximum recoverable amount” from her pension fund. However the school business manager was cleared of theft offences following a trial at Bolton Crown Court.

The first case to come to the serious attention of auditors though was when school dinner lady Elizabeth Heaton was found to have pocketed £37,000 in canteen takings.

She was given a suspended prison sentence in 2016. She worked in the kitchens at Rose Bridge Academy and the former Rose Bridge High for 21 years before the theft was uncovered. Council chiefs pledged a “zero tolerance” approach to fraud.