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Hong Kong schools

Sacked Hing Tak principal’s HK$350,000 claim put off in view of criminal case against her

Labour Tribunal adjourns hearing indefinitely after Chan Cheung-ping confirms police investigation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 12:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 11:01pm

A sacked Hong Kong primary school principal has demanded HK$350,000 from the management, but her claim was on Thursday adjourned indefinitely by the Labour Tribunal to await completion of criminal proceedings against her.

The court order came as Hing Tak School board member Au Kam-chan revealed there was an ongoing criminal case involving dismissed principal Chan Cheung-ping.

Chan confirmed this and told the court: “I’ve assisted [in a] police investigation.”

The former principal was ousted by the school board on August 18, two weeks before the start of the new school year, in a majority vote of 17 for to two against, with three abstaining. Chan did not attend the meeting, claiming she was sick.

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Her dismissal followed a series of controversies at the Tuen Mun school, including claims that admissions figures had been exaggerated to avoid a cut in funding. Chan was also accused of alienating teachers, not following procedure in hiring and promoting staff, and failing to respond to inquiries from the board.

Police began investigating last month and on Wednesday brought their first prosecution – against a former teacher now accused of remaining in a school without permission.

On Thursday, parties attended the tribunal for the first time over Chan’s claim of three months’ salary plus payment in lieu of notice filed against the Incorporated Management Committee of Hing Tak School. The claim amounted to nearly HK$350,000, according to Au.

But while Chan was eager to gather witness statements and obtain investigation reports from the board and the Education Bureau, principal presiding officer Ho Wai-yang said the tribunal did not recommend settling the labour dispute before the criminal proceedings.

“If we continue, it will require giving testimony under oath, and that may touch on the criminal case,” Ho explained. “To protect yourself ... I recommend adjourning indefinitely until the completion of criminal proceedings.”

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Should parties wish to reopen the case, Ho said, they could write to the tribunal to seek her permission.

They were also advised to keep the tribunal informed on the criminal case by writing to her within 14 days of learning the result.

Chan did not respond to questions outside the tribunal except to say: “Thank you for asking.”