Principal pleads guilty to fraudulent spending

by Robert Ballantyne24 Nov 2015

A primary school principal in Queensland’s far north has been found liable by Cairns Magistrates Court of fraudulent spending with a taxpayer-funded credit card, an offense that is likely to see him lose his job.

Wayne Garry Kirk, principal of Parramatta State School, located in Parramatta Park in Cairns, was fined $2,000 after pleading guilty to “dishonest use” of a Department of Education credit card.

Kirk’s school is listed by the Department of Education as a “low socio-economic” institution.

During sentencing yesterday, Kirk admitted to spending just under $1,000 of the school’s money for personal reasons, including paying for flights for his family.

The court heard he also used the card to book a flight to Brisbane to attend a job interview at a private school but paid the money back soon after.

At sentencing, it was found that Kirk still owed $465 and was ordered to pay full restitution to the school, which he said he intended to do immediately.

Police prosecutor, Troy Sutton, told the court that the credit card used by Kirk was meant to be used exclusively for the school’s expenses.

“It is an offence of dishonesty – an act whereby he has dishonestly applied money belonging to the ­Department of Education to his own use,” Sutton said.

“Future employers, in my submission, should be aware of that by virtue of a conviction being recorded.”

However, Magistrate Richard Lehmann chose not to record a conviction, noting Kirk’s otherwise clean criminal record and the evidence of remorse outlined in colleagues’ references.

Defence barrister, Joshua Trevino, said Kirk, who had worked for the department for 25 years was “an effective and highly-regarded” school principal.

“His supervisor, at the time, notes that he was a competent manager in terms of teaching and learning, he was a competent principal, but that he was not the greatest financial manager,” Trevino said.

He added that while his client had been awarded bonuses for his performance as a principal, he was now likely to lose his job and possibly his career with the department.

Kirk was stood down and asked not to attend the school or make contact with any staff after he was charged earlier this year.

The Department of Education has declined to comment, saying Kirk still had the option of appealing the court’s decision.


  • by John Smith 24/11/2015 3:27:25 PM

    Draconian treatment for what may have been an honest or innocent error. For Example was he working late and used the wrong credit card online to pay for the flight because he was so over tied due to an unrealistic workload. (I and most managers that have business cards for years will have done similar by accident and then fixed it up later).
    It is more interesting to me to note how much the government spent on prosecuting this petty perhaps accidental small theft of a man who seems to have given years of service. I am also concerned about the cost of changing a light bulb in remote state schools due to policies that do not make sense or support QBuild whose contractors (when I was a state school Principal) would charge half the price as an independent quote or double through QBuild... I am sure this has change in resent years...?
    I am more concerned over the accountability of funding that is spent in the high places for research and ICT contract services and infrastructure...
    Also wondered who we have paid huge salaries to to throw away books and replace them with tablets which lock up a site license for a NUMBER OF BOOKS -when those books in hard copy could have been used by many at once -ops... This would not matter if the budget was unlimited.
    We should be more concerned about the big fish -not what may have been an innocent error worthy of a smack on the hand nmot a public shaming.
    So how many years of his life has this principal invested into State Education? What an interesting Gold Watch he has been given?
    I think he may be a person, not perfect, who has feelings, and this is not the way people should be treated.
    I would like to know how much the prosecutor makes -per hour for ruining his life. Sleep well....

    v the funds that State Education spends subcontracting out Maths education to Maths Online (20$ per student =millions) just add this up across Australia. and you willion