Principals: how vulnerable are your school funds to fraud?

by The Educator16 Jan 2015

Hiring staff is a leap of faith, but is that enough to adequately secure the safety of the funds your school relies on to function?

When Ian MacCulloch, the former business manager at exclusive girls’ school Kambala, was charged with fraud this week, it might have prompted some schools to take a closer look at that those who hold the keys to their coffers.

MacCulloch, who was responsible for the financial management of the Rose Bay girls’ school, allegedly embezzled more than $460,000 of school funds for personal purchases over the past five years.

The incident is likely to raise the alert level of schools towards fraud, though identifying culprits of the act could be tricky.

The former business manager described himself as a "key person on the school's senior executive and involved in strategy and management" and was even praised by his former employer as showing “outstanding leadership.”

With qualifications and attributes like that, it’s perhaps understandable that no one would have suspected a man of his stature – who also oversaw a number of non-teaching areas including insurance, legal issues and risk management - of any wrongdoing.

However, it was learned by investigators that the 56-year-old MacCulloch resigned from his position at the independent girls' college at the end of 2013, with the school council only discovering the missing funds last year.

The broader school community was then notified of what had happened.

"The school has completed a forensic audit of our accounts and has successfully recovered $38,000," school council president Sally Herman told 9News.

"Our work to recover misappropriated funds is not complete and we will continue our efforts to retrieve the remaining money.”

MacCulloch is due to appear before Waverley Local Court on February 25. 
 

COMMENTS

  • by JoeCitizen 16/01/2015 11:17:20 AM

    Human nature will always come with the potential for wrongdoing. That said, the alleged embezzlement took place using "school credit cards", right? Why not confront this issue head-on by getting rid of school credit cards altogether (No card = no access to card). If for some bizarre reason that's not an option, then introduce a better authentication process that helps schools monitor these things.