A former preschool principal who pocketed more than S$13,500 in fees was ordered to pay a fine of S$8,000 on Tuesday (Aug 2).
Bavani V R Kumaran, 39, was found out when her colleague became suspicious and arranged for an internal audit.
It came to light that Bavani, principal of the Ang Mo Kio branch of the PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots Preschool, had misappropriated a total of S$13,538.95 over 21 months across 2014 and 2015, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tow Chew Chi told the court.
Bavani’s role put her in charge of collecting cash payments from the parents of toddlers enrolled in the preschool, for miscellaneous expenses such as uniforms, photographs and school outings.
The cash was stashed in a safe, which could only be opened with a password and a key. Bavani had the password, but had to ask a colleague for the key. When her unsuspecting colleague handed it over, Bavani would remove the cash and spend it on her personal expenses.
Her theft was uncovered after a school administrator realised there appeared to be many unpaid fees at the preschool, she arranged for an audit.
Bavani pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust, for pocketing S$6,848.30 between January and October 2015. Another charge – for misappropriating S$6,690.65 – was taken into consideration during sentencing.
Bavani has since made full restitution, her lawyer Ms Jolene Tan said on Tuesday. The lawyer said Bavani, a single parent to two teenage daughters, had been struggling financially when she committed the offences.
Bavani is now a childcare teacher and determined to start life afresh with her two daughters, Ms Tan added.
In sentencing Bavani to pay a fine of S$8,000, the District Judge noted the woman is a first offender and has since made full restitution.
For criminal misappropriation, Bavani could have faced up to seven years’ jail and/or a fine.