Group told to surrender school rights by July 14

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 May, 2009, 12:00am

The government has demanded the sponsoring body of a Yau Tong school surrender its operating rights by mid-July and said it would set up a team to find an organisation to take over. This came as the government revealed the school had not turned in budget reports for the past two years.

Education Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung said he received a letter at 4pm yesterday from Pegasus Social Service Christian Organisation saying it would give up its operating rights to Pegasus Philip Wong Kin Hang Christian Primary School cum Junior Secondary School.

'We have demanded the sponsoring body return the right to the government on July 14 after receiving the letter,' Mr Suen said. 'We will appoint a transitional management team to take care of the school and find another sponsoring body to take over the school.'

Mr Suen declined to say whether the government would be able to find a suitable sponsoring body, but when asked if it would take over on its own, he said: 'I am afraid not.'

The school has been operating on a provisional licence since it was founded in 2001. The Christian organisation announced on Saturday it would surrender its operating rights to the 500-student school, which runs classes from Primary One to Form Three.

Pegasus school supervisor Carman Leung said the decision was made because the school failed to obtain government approval to run senior form classes for its secondary school section.

She said it was a responsible decision that protected students' interests. 'It is the government that is being irresponsible because it does not let us run senior form classes and ignores students' chances to continue their studies in the same school. We hope the government will take over the school and run senior form classes.'

But Kwan Pak-keong, the chief school development officer for Kwun Tong, who inspected the school yesterday, said the government could not approve or reject its application.

'The sponsoring body's failure to hand in audit reports for the past two years and its need to improve the operation of the board of directors are part of the reason that we have reservations about its plan,' he said. 'In March, the sponsoring body submitted a proposal about running senior secondary school class, but the proposal is not comprehensive enough.'

Ada Wong Ying-kay, a member of the board of directors, blamed board members for delaying the application process.

A source close to the situation said the school's board of directors comprises Ms Leung, who is a former headmistress, present school supervisor and chairwoman of the sponsoring body; her husband; her two brothers-in-law; and three parents of students who are Ms Leung's close friends.

The source said the board had 12 members last year and Ms Leung's 'alliance' held seven seats.

Ms Leung rebuffed suggestions that she failed to hand in budget reports and placed relatives and friends on the board.

Meanwhile, the school board met for three hours last night and agreed to set up a working group to work with the Education Bureau on the handover of the school.