TIRUVANNAMALAI : The headmaster (HM) of the Government High School in Avaniyapuram was suspended on Thursday for alleged involvement in the documents forgery scam.
The accused, who had allegedly forged appointment and transfer orders for his wife and sister-in-law, also forged the signature of the then CEO on letters to the treasury, to get the teachers added to the payroll.
The issue had come to light two months ago, when the headmaster of a government school in Vandhavasi made a call to the Chief Education Officer regarding the appointment of a new Tamil teacher.
While the new Tamil teacher – Maheshwari, of Ekkaduthangal in Chennai – had turned up with an appointment order, the headmaster had not received the customary intimation.
The CEO, none the wiser, asked for the new teacher's documents to be faxed to him. The documents, which included a transfer certificate from a school in Villupuram and showed that Maheshwari had passed the teacher recruitment board exams in 2014-15, proved to be forged.
Soon after this, the CEO sent a circular to all government schools in the district, asking for the documents submitted by all teachers. During verifications, the names of three other teachers were found to be missing from the department records.
The three assistant graduate teachers – C Muthulakshmi, C Punithavathi, and S Vijayakumar – who were teaching in three different schools since September 2014, had forged documents and went absconding even as cases were registered against them.
As this were, on Thursday, CEO V Jayakumar suspended headmaster (in-charge) of Aavaniyapuram government high school Sakthivel, for cheating the government and causing financial loss by failing to inform the education department (ED) of the new teacher. It later transpired that Sakthivel was married to C Muthulakshmi, who was accused in the case. Inquiries further established that Muthulakshmi and the second accused C Punithavathi were siblings.
Muthulakshmi had joined the school in 2014 when Sakthivel was the headmaster (in-charge) there. Soon after, Punithavathi joined a Government High school at Vadamampakkam.
Sources from the education department explained how the headmaster had exploited the layered nature of bureaucratic communication to add the fake teachers on government payroll.
Firstly, they warded off any verification by joining existing vacancies, rather than creating new posts. The number of teaching post sanctioned for each school and vacancies is available with the treasury, which disburses salaries.
While the treasury verifies new teachers, a transfer from one school to another, to fill a vacant post, is merely the question of updating information and goes unverified. The treasury will add the new teacher on payroll if a letter from the CEO to that effect reaches them.
Sakthivel reportedly forged the signature of the then CEO, to send a letter to the treasury. While the treasury payroll had these names, the ED had no record of these teachers. Meanwhile, the documents of another teacher at Mathalampatti was being scrutinised. Out of 5,000 assistant graduate teachers working in the district, genuinity of about 40 was yet to ascertained.
"We have asked them to submit their genuinity certificates. A process has been initiated to reclaim Rs 25 lakh, the salary availed by the trio for 30 months," said CEO Jayakumar.