A new principal has been appointed at a Tuen Mun school which came under fire in early August for enrolling “shadow students.” The pupils never showed up to class, in a ruse supposedly designed to prevent the Education Bureau from cutting its funding.

Siu Lai-shan, head teacher at Lok Sin Tong Leung Kau Kui Primary School in Tin Shui Wai, will take over the position at Hing Tak School on September 1. At a press conference held by the Incorporated Management Committee, Siu said she had more than 20 years of experience in school governance, and that her primary aim was to address students’ needs.

“I hope that the school will be able to resume normal governance operations as soon as possible,” said Siu. “I want to thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to join this family, and to serve this school.”

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

The new principal of Hing Tak School, Siu Lai-shan.

Siu said that she will organise a meeting to inform parents of the school’s future plans and work on uniting staff members.

“More communication, more respect, and more tolerance are extremely important,” said Siu. “I have confidence that I will be able to, in the shortest possible time-frame, help coordinate communication between my colleagues, and to get the complex governing situation at the school back on the right track, with minimal impact upon students’ learning.”

See more: Tuen Mun school to investigate ex-principal for suspected violation of hiring procedures

Hing Tak School. File Photo: Stand News.

Ex-principal requests compensation

On Tuesday,  ex-principal Chan Cheung-ping claimed that her dismissal by the committee on August 18 had violated the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, according to RTHK. She requested an official notice of compensation from the school via the Labour Department.

Section nine of the Employment Ordinance 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.

Acting principal Lui Ki-cheung said previously that the school had identified three major mistakes committed by Chan. Lui said Chan had divided the teachers, had used improper methods of promotion, selection, and recruitment – creating a risk of teacher complaints and civil claims – and had been absent throughout the committee’s investigation, making it difficult for them to obtain important information. For this reason, Lui said that the ordinance was applicable.

In response to Chan’s request, Lui said that the committee consulted with legal experts regarding Chan’s termination prior to the vote. He said that he doubted that Chan would be able to claim compensation.

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

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

‘Have confidence’

During a visit to the embattled school on Wednesday, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said that the Incorporated Management Committee had completed the necessary administrative tasks in anticipation of students’ return, including the organisation of educational staff, school buses, and lunch meals. He thanked the school’s teachers for continuing to uphold their responsibilities as educators in spite of difficult circumstances.

Secretary for Education Andrew Yeung, on a visit to Hing Tak School. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“I urge everyone, whether it is new students or parents, to have confidence in the school, which has finished its preparation work,” said Yeung.

“I also hope that everyone will give the school, new students and new parents more space so that they may begin the school year smoothly, in a calm environment.”

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.