A Tuen Mun school has said that it will investigate allegations that an ex-principal violated regulations in hiring a primary school teacher. The same principal was fired for keeping so-called “shadow students” – who never turned up to class – enrolled in an effort to maintain its level of government funding.

Hing Tak School said that on one occasion, a job interview took place one day after the hiring notice was posted – a violation of recruitment procedures. The school suspects that the sole applicant to the post, Chan Si-man, has close ties to ex-principal Chan Cheung-ping, according to Ming Pao.

The school said that it will not rule out the possibility of transferring the case to law enforcement authorities for further investigation.

Hing Tak School
Hing Tak School. File Photo: Stand News.

School authorities said that, according to regular  procedures, roles should first be advertised within the institution so that qualified teachers may opt for an interview. If existing teachers are deemed unsuitable, schools may contact the Incorporated Management Committee for approval to initiate external recruitment. The committee must subsequently approve the chosen candidate.

According to school authorities, a recruitment notice was posted on June 29. One day later, two lower-ranking teaching staff interviewed Chan Si-man, the sole applicant to respond to the notice. The school said it suspects that the ex-principal violated recruitment procedure in making a verbal commitment to hire Chan.

See more: Tuen Mun school votes to fire principal embroiled in ‘shadow student’ enrolment scandal

Chan said that he found out about a vacancy at Hing Tak in May through a recruitment website, according to Oriental Daily. He said that he was interviewed three times between late June and July, and received verbal confirmation from Chan Cheung-ping as well as a call from the school secretary regarding his appointment afterwards.

chan cheung-ping
Hing Tak School principal Chan Cheung-ping. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Chan said he did not hear from Hing Tak school again after resigning from his previous workplace. He subsequently made a complaint to the staff union, which transferred the case to the Education Bureau for follow-up investigation.

Chan denied having any contact with the ex-principal prior to his interview, and said that the school reneged on its verbal commitment. On Monday, Chan’s lawyer sent a letter to the acting principal and the Incorporated Management Committee requesting an official notice of appointment within five days, saying that Chan would seek legal compensation otherwise.

See more: Education Bureau and police investigate Tuen Mun school for ‘enrolling shadow students’

Acting principal Lui Ki-cheung said that Chan was previously hired as a primary school teacher during the 2013-2014 academic year, but that he left the school a few days into the role. Lui said he doubted Chan’s claim that he did not know the ex-principal.

Lui Ki-cheung
Lui Ki-cheung. File Photo: RTHK screenshot.

On August 18, Hing Tak School passed a motion to fire its principal, Chan Cheung-ping. The motion was based on Section 9 of the Employment Ordinance, which states that an employer may terminate a contract of employment without notice or payment if the employee wilfully disobeys a lawful and reasonable order, engages in misconduct, is guilty of fraud or dishonesty, or is habitually neglectful in their duties.

jun pang

Jun Pang

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.