Hong Kong’s education minister has said he may have to take “extreme measures” against a troubled primary school, which is accused of exaggerating the number of pupils enrolled to avoid a funding cut, should its governing body refuse to cooperate and resume proper operation.
The warning from Kevin Yeung Yun-hung came amid doubts over a scheduled board meeting of Hing Tak School on Friday.
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The school in Tuen Mun has violated the seven-day notice requirement to announce the agenda of the Friday meeting, with some board members pledging to keep principal Chan Cheung-ping despite the scandal.
Yeung told TVB’s On the Record on Sunday that the school board had the responsibility to “make wise decisions” on the school’s future.
Asked how the government would intervene should the board ask Chan to stay, Yeung said: “When it comes to extreme circumstances that we think some board members could not play their roles … we might consider whether they are still suitable to serve on the board.”
The government may appoint more managers to the board, he said, adding it would even consider taking over the school eventually.
“We would consider all means regardless of how extreme they are for the sake of protecting the students,” he said.
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Yeung also said initial findings had suggested the school would not receive more funding even it exaggerated the number of students, but it had violated the requirement of reporting the cases of students who were absent for seven days to the bureau.
Police launched investigations into Hing Tak School last week after the government-subsidised school’s questionable governance record came under scrutiny.
But Chan, the principal, had rejected these allegations, saying many absent pupils were cross-border children on official leave for family and health reasons.
The Education Bureau also identified other issues under the leadership of Chan, such as its deviation from normal procedure in the firing of two teachers in June.
The government had earlier appointed eight managers to the school’s board to sooth its operation and two more were expected to be appointed this week ahead of the scheduled meeting.
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It was understood that some non-government appointed members had adopted an uncooperative attitude as they would rather give up the sponsorship of the school than sacking Chan.
“I hope the board members would show up to the Friday meeting,” said government-appointed board member Lui Ki-cheung, who feared the scheduled meeting on Friday would be adjourned by insufficient quorum. “Students should not be used as hostages.”