PCF Sparkletots Preschool principal fined $8,000 for criminal breach of trust

SINGAPORE - A 39-year-old PAP Community Foundation (PCF) preschool centre principal was on Tuesday (Aug 2) fined $8,000 for misappropriating a total of $13,538.

Bavani V R Kumaran pleaded guilty to one charge of criminal breach of trust, with another count of the same taken into account in sentencing.

A district court heard that Bavani was the head of the PCF Sparkletots Preschool at Block 644, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4.

As part of her job, she was entrusted with collecting cash from parents of children enrolled at the preschool.

The amount she collected was supposed to be documented in a book and the money kept in a safe in the preschool office.

The safe could only be opened with a key and a password. Bavani had the password, but the key was held by a senior teacher at the preschool.

Between Jan 3 and Nov 26, 2014 she filched $6,690.65 from the safe. Between Jan 12 and Oct 30, 2015, she pilfered $6,848.30.

Over multiple occasions, she would ask the senior teacher for the key to the safe, and then unlawfully take some cash to spend on her own expenses.

An executive principal of the preschool realised that there were unpaid fees at the school and carried out an internal audit, before filing a police report on Dec 22, 2015, fingering Bavani as the culprit who stole the money.

Bavani has paid back the full sum of money that she stole.

In mitigation, her lawyer Jolene Tan told the court that Bavani is a single parent with two children, aged 16 and 18, and lives in a rented HDB flat.

Since her divorce in 2012, she has held two jobs and worked more than 12 hours daily to support her family.

She suffers from cervical spondylosis, a condition affecting the joints and discs in the neck, and diabetes.

The lawyer said Bavani had been working with PCF since 2011 as she loves teaching children. She is currently working as a childcare teacher.

Bavani was originally charged with two counts of criminal breach of trust as a servant, which is punishable with a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine.

The maximum punishment for criminal breach of trust is seven years' jail and a fine.