Education chiefs have upheld complaints against a kindergarten headmistress who forced teachers to paint a mural at her home during work hours.

Former teachers accused Tai Tung Sun Chuen Saint Teresa Kindergarten headmistress of misconduct.
Former teachers accused Tai Tung Sun Chuen Saint Teresa Kindergarten headmistress of misconduct in March. File Photo: Owan Li via Facebook.

The Education Bureau (EDB) has ruled that two of four allegations made against the headmistress of the Tai Tung Sun Chuen Saint Teresa Kindergarten in Tai Kok Tsui were valid, according to a July 14 EDB response that former district councillor Owan Li posted on Facebook on Friday.

Li had earlier filed the complaint on behalf of a group of teachers who were employed at the kindergarten.

In March, the headmistress was accused of “enslaving teachers” by demanding three of them paint a mural at her home during work hours, a task unrelated to their teaching responsibilities. They were also required to make drafts of the mural, to type out handwritten drafts of the headmistress’s literary endeavours, and to buy food for her.

Last week, the EDB launched an investigation into new allegations that the headmistress told teachers to take photos of a student with special education needs who stripped off in class.

In their letter, the EDB also upheld an allegation that the headmistress scolded a teacher using degrading terms substantiated.

Other accusations that the she covered up for a teacher who allegedly dragged a student on a slide and slapped another could not be corroborated. No surveillance footage was available as “the school’s surveillance camera had no recording function,” the EDB’s letter read.

There was also insufficient evidence showing the school breached employment contracts by not fulfilling work benefits to the teachers, the EDB said.

Follow up action

“The bureau requests the school to take appropriate follow up action in accordance with the complaints mechanism outlined in the kindergarten administration guidelines, including to have independent individuals take charge of an investigation and submit a report to the bureau,” the EDB letter read.

Education officials visited the school six times after receiving the complaints and collected information through meetings with the headmistress, school teachers, its assistants, its chancellor and two former teachers.

school classroom
File photo: Tom Grundy.

The EDB said it requested the school to take disciplinary action while it “takes follow up action about the headmistress’s professional conduct,” without further elaboration.

Li told HKFP that he has asked the EDB for their response to the new allegations. “We have provided the witnesses, but they said [some of the] allegations were unfounded. Does this mean the [complaint] mechanism and the system of oversight are insufficient?” Li said. The headmistress continues to work at the school, he said. “This makes one worry whether the EDB is incapable of having oversight towards schools.”

HKFP has reached out to the headmistress for comment.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.