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Principal Interdicted Following Audit

Principal Interdicted Following Audit
March 22
10:56 2019

Principal of Excelsior High School in Belize City, Dawn Watters, has been placed on interdiction with half pay after an audit report on the school’s finances showed serious irregularities with how school monies were being handled over an 11-month period.

The school’s new Board of Directors, which was empaneled last November, set up an independent team which conducted a 15-day investigation after the audit revealed that there was no accounting for tens of thousands of dollars and that two laptops had simply vanished from the school’s computer room. The missing monies and alleged misappropriation of funds had been going on between September of 2017 and October of 2018, from what the records show.

While the investigation was ongoing, Watters was placed on administrative leave, but when a report provided by the investigative team supported the findings of the audit – that there was merit to take the matter one step further to a separate adjudicative panel, Watters was then placed on 30 days interdiction with half pay and several charges were brought against her last week. Watters has two weeks to respond to the charges, after which that body will decide her fate.

Sources close to the investigation have reliably informed the Reporter that two members of the previous school Board did not want to proceed with an investigation against Watters and that one of them missed the most important meeting that would have, without giving a reasonable excuse. The other long-standing former Board member missed three consecutive meetings, also without providing valid reasons, which was not in compliance with the Education Rules and which also allowed the rest of the Board to remove that person and to proceed with the investigation without them. Those two persons, one of whom was actually one of the signatories that called the important meeting, no longer hold any position at Excelsior High School.

The missing monies were first discovered last year when one of the teachers at the school learned last October that all of their salary deductions for social security, income tax and insurance had not been paid in for several months. The teacher inquired about it and found out that the deductions were made out in cheques but had not been paid to any of the three institutions. In the case of one of the teachers, their Social Security arrears date back to last June and their income tax arrears date back even further to the month of May.

When the teachers asked Watters at the time what happened, we were informed that she could not provide an immediate response, and that the following day she told them that she used the monies to purchase school supplies because the Ministry of Education was not providing sufficient funds for the school’s operational expenses.

We had contacted Watters to get her reaction to the allegations and she said she would call us back but she never did.


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