Troubled Hong Kong primary school appoints acting principal and is ready for new academic year, parents told

After scandal over ‘shadow’ pupils, Hing Tak School has hired sufficient teachers and is recruiting a new principal

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 3:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 8:07pm

A troubled primary school in Tuen Mun has appointed an acting principal and will open its doors for the new academic year despite being embroiled in a series of controversies, parents have been reassured.

Sung Cheuk-fan, who has taught at the school for the past 12 years, was appointed acting principal on Monday afternoon with recruitment for a replacement for the ousted Chan Cheung-ming also under way.

“As the school’s head of discipline, I believe I am familiar with how the school is run and can handle things on an administrative level,” Sung told reporters outside the school.

“I had hesitated for a while, but as a member of management staff I felt it was only responsible that I help,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a member of the board had spoken on a radio programme to reassure parents that the school was ready for the new academic year.

“Given that the principal has been removed, 95 per cent of the school’s problems are already solved. The remaining 5 per cent are only finance related,” Lui Ki-cheung said.

“I can confidently tell parents at Hing Tak School that they do not need to transfer ... we have already hired a sufficient number of teachers.”

In early August, teachers at the government-subsidised school complained that the school had inflated pupil enrolment numbers to avoid funding cuts, when in reality some of the children had been absent for up to two years.

The issue brought to light a series of other governance problems, such as strained relations between teachers and procedures not being followed for the hiring and promotion of staff.

Interviews for a new principal would begin on August 26 and Lui hoped the acting head could start work on September 1.

Parents at troubled Hong Kong school consider transfer of their children

He added that Chan had so far been cooperative in handing over finances after her dismissal despite media reports that she was planning to complain to the Labour Department about being removed from her post.

Lui cited legal advice from the Education Bureau, saying the school did not have to give Chan formal notice of dismissal or payment in lieu of notice under Section 9 of the Employment Ordinance, as she had made several grave mistakes.

There are a total of 48 teachers at school, 17 of which are newly hired, according to Sung.

Sung also assured parents that there were enough students enrolled for the new academic year and was not worried about the school having to close down.

Liu estimated there would be around 650 pupils in 26 classes when the term started.