Mindruling Community Primary School Principal alleges political bias in his removal while another principal facing more serious charges was let off the hook
Kinley Tenzin was terminated from his post as Principal of Mindruling Community Primary School (CPS) in Dumtoe, Samtse 20 months ago on grounds of alleged misuse of some funds.
He claimed that he was innocent and was not allowed to present his case well but still removed on political grounds due to the fact that he was suspected of having supported PDP in the 2008 elections. His NOC was also withheld making him unemployed for close to two years.
The Principal said that in a much more serious case the Principal Dorokha Middle Secondary School did not face any severe action due to his DPT linkages and the cooperation provided by the principal in the 2008 elections to Lyonpo Thakur Powdyel.
Kinley said that the Dorokha principal in question had been accused in writing by 11 of his teachers for sexual misconduct, making pornography, misusing resources, destroying property, misuse of school budget, misuse of school’s non-teaching staff, unauthorized payments made, harassment, vandalisation of school property, manhandling of student’s parents, hospitalizing students and misuse of school’s ICT facilities etc. The Bhutanese was given a copy of the complaint letter signed by 11 teachers.
It all began during the 2008 election campaigns when according to Kinley both Principals took different stands on allowing political parties to campaign in the school premises and as a result got enmeshed on either sides of the political divide.
During the elections DPT party works had named Kinley as a potential PDP party worker in the media.
“The minister believed I was a supporter of PDP and held a personal grudge against me”, he said. “They suspected me of being a party worker for PDP because my brother-in-law was a party worker under the opposition leader in Sombaykha,” he said.
He said, the DPT party co-coordinators like Sangay Khandu from Samtse and Lyonpo Thakur were behind the controversy. “They even told the media that I was directly or indirectly supporting PDP while in government service”, he added.
Kinley said that on the contrary the Dorokha principal is known to be a supporter of DPT and had assisted Lyonpo Thakur during the 2008 general elections. “When parties were campaigning in the constituency I didn’t allow any members of any of the parties to visit the classrooms in my school which is as per the law. The Dorokha MSS Principal had supported Lyonpo Thakur during the campaign by allowing him to visit the school and classrooms”, he alleged.
Kinley said Lyonpo Thakur after the elections visited Mindruling CPS on the sidelines of his constituency visit in October 2008. He alleged that the minister reminded him of the pre-elections controversy and warned him that he could be fixed by the RCSC.
Kinley was denied a transfer to another school several times in the years 2008 and 2009. “The DEO said I was under observation as per Lyonpo’s instructions,” he said.
Real trouble for Kinley started in 2010 when the Gup and Tshogpas of Dumtoe Gewog some of whom he said were affiliated to DPT alleged that Kinley misused the salaries of two contract teachers and a non-formal education (NFE) instructor, money collected to procure religious scriptures (Bums) for the school and was absent from office.
On October 11, 2010 Kinley was suspended for indefinite period of time on the charge of prima-facie case related to misuse of fund and also staff’s salary.
A confidential letter dated October 12, 2010, sent by the education secretary to the then Samtse Dzongda, directed the Dzongkhag to form an investigation team investigate the matter.
The principal was then ordered to retire in November 2010, bringing to an end a 16-year career.
Kinley said, the investigation team did not seek any clarification from him nor was he asked to submit any written statement. “For all the accusations I have my own justifications and evidence but wasn’t given a chance to justify,” he claimed.
The principal said the salaries of the two contract teachers had been deposited into his account by mistake of the Dzongkhag finance. “Much before the allegations were made the salaries was reimbursed to the DEO on August 16 and the matter concluded there,” he said.
“The fund, collected as donation from staff and businessmen, was for conducting religious ceremony in the school, as decided by a committee,” he said. “The amount to procure religious scriptures was entered in the Choeten Tshogpa register, but was kept aside as it was insufficient and the money was still in the school when the investigation was going on,” he claimed.
He said it took him two years to obtain the NOC and during that time he faced the “worst crisis” in his life as he had to support three children. “There were times when we had no money for meals,” he said. Kinley joined Pelkhil private School earlier this month as a temporary teacher as he got his NOC after approaching His Majesty for Kidu. The letter to grant a NOC was sent by the Gyalpoi Zimpon on March 29th 2012 but the Education Ministry released it only four months later on 13th July 2012 further prolonging Kinley’s suffering.
Kinley said, “Severe action was taken against me based on un-proven allegations instigated by DPT party co-coordinators while no serious action was taken against the Dorokha principal who faced major allegations from 11 teachers of his own school”.
A letter dated March 28, 2008 signed by 11 teachers of DMSS, another school in the same Dzongkhag made 39 allegations made against the Dorokha principal. The letter was addressed to the Samtse DEO.
One of the main allegations included the Dorokha principal’s illicit relationship with a female Non Formal Education learner at the school with whom he had also taped explicit scenes. The letter states, “He has captured his own pornographic scene with one of the NFE learners using his digital camera which is about 4 to 5 minutes in duration”.
The teachers also alleged that the principal forced school girls to dance and entertain guests during events outside the schools such as birthday celebration of a basic health worker’s (BHW) daughter.
The Dorokha principal according to the letter was also known for severe corporal punishment. While some students had to be hospitalized, one was expelled from the school without the consent of neither the school’s disciplinary committee nor higher authorities.
The letter also alleged that the principal spent half the time in office browsing porn sites and also gambling (dice games) with the public around the market area even during working days.
Teachers alleged that the principal held personal grudges against students and teachers which led to students dropping out and a few senior teachers even leaving the school.
Among others, allegations included lack of transparency and accountability, misuse of school budget, misuse of school’s non-teaching staff, unauthorized payments, harassment, vandalization of school property in public, manhandling of student’s parents in public, misuse of school’s ICT facilities etc.
The same teachers sent another letter to the education Secretary on April 18, 2008 expressing dissatisfaction over the Dzongkhags resolution on the case.
In the letter the teachers said that when the Dzongda visited DMSS on a familiarization tour, Karma Phuntsho Assistant DEO accompanying the Dzongda produced an apology letter from the principal. “When that is the resolution to our plea, we are not happy and satisfied”, the letter stated.
Kinley said, “The Dorokha principal, despite serious proven accusations was just demoted to a teacher’s post by the MoE and got transferred by just giving an apology letter but in my case even without proving the case against me I have been deprived of my job and NOC”.
“The ex-principal is currently a teacher at one of the government schools in Norbuling, Sarpang,” he said.
He said the Dorokha principal was not even suspended while the investigation was underway. “He and I worked under the same constituency, same ministry and same secretary but there is no equity and justice”, Kinley said.
“Instead of punishing the principal, senior officials from the ministry warned the teachers of Dorokha MSS who lodged the complaint, not to practice ‘groupism’ in the school and they were transferred to different schools”, Kinley Tenzin said.
Kinley said there are many other such cases where the ministry had never taken any action due to conflict of interest and political motives.
Kinley’s plea to the RCSC to release his NOC was in vain and his request to the Prime Minister’s grievance cell to work as a contract teacher was also turned down.
In January 2011, the Samtse DEO forwarded a letter to the MOE on behalf of Kinley requesting the ministry to re-assess the previous decision from compulsory retirement to voluntary retirement so that he can make a living for his family. The letter also entailed Kinley’s commitments to having served in different remote schools for six years despite being a diabetic patient and also reflected that Kinley also volunteered for security duties in Samtse Dzongkhag during the 1990’s.
“I could at least have participated in local government elections if it was a voluntary resignation,” Kinley said. “However, that was also turned down,” he added.
MoE’s chief human resource officer Sonam Wangyel said he was not aware of the official complaint against the Dorokha principal since he joined in 2009.
He said, “I remember Kinley sharing with other people that on a similar kind of a case he has been penalized but the other person has not been penalized. But this has been never brought to us officially”.
The chief said since the RCSC endorsed the findings of the ministry’s investigation, RCSC would be the best to comment on the case. However, The Bhutanese couldn’t get hold of RCSC officials.
Lyonpo Thakur Powdyel was out of the country when The Bhutanese tried to contact him. The paper however has asked for an appointment when Lyonpo is back.
The Education Secretary Sangay Zam declined to comment on the issue.
Kinley said, “I don’t intend to file any case against Lyonpo but I would like to request members of all new political parties not to launch such personal attacks to ruin someone’s career because of political reasons,” he said.