FOR the 600 primary school pupils at the Colegio San Isidoro in Granada, the vuelta al cole (back to school) on September 17 was ruined by the embroilment of their school head masters in accusations of serious fraud.
The directors of the primary school are accused of nepotism, fraud and misconduct as investigations on the school dating back two years have been made public.
The colegio concertado, a half-private, half-public primary school which relies both on fees and government funding, is owned by a group of shareholders, all belonging to the same extended family.
The allegations centre on the directors of the school: José Manuel Molina Galdeano and his brother Antonio. The pair are said to have defrauded around 30,000 euros in one year alone by claiming payment for 50 hours of teaching per week, when they only worked for 25 hours.
Eight teachers in total are alleged to have claimed payment in a similar way for teaching hours double those of their actual timetable.
The investigations also state the school invented pupils in order to receive extra funding. In the school year 2004/2005, it is alleged the centre received funding for 28 first-year students – when only 25 were registered in the first-year class.
Inspectors also noted that the centre received extra funds as they claimed the class of ‘28’ had been split into two groups – when in fact they were taught in just one.
The reports state nine teachers were allowed to give classes without holding the necessary qualifications for their posts. In addition, they claim to have found that the sister of one of the directors had worked at the primary school as a teacher “for a number of years,” despite the fact that she did not hold teaching qualifications.
In addition, the director’s own wife and his sister-in-law were also employed as teachers – even though they were not sufficiently qualified, it is alleged. These two unqualified family members of the director also claimed the subsidies on 41 hours of classes when they only taught for 23 hours per week, according to inspectors.
Antonio Lara, a representative of the Education Department for Granada, expressed his contempt following the allegations. “It damages the rights of the families and the credibility of the education system. I have never seen anything so serious in my entire career,” he said.
Two investigations have been carried out into the conduct of the school’s management – both claim to have observed serious fraud. The investigating body has recommended that the department impose sanctions for fraud, for which a fine of 125,000 to one million euros will be imposed, as well as a suspension of the subsidy agreement on the part of the Junta de Andalucía regional government.
The Molina Álvarez de Cienfuegos family, comprising the nephews and a sister-in-law of the sibling directors are collective owners of the school. They have separated themselves from the scandal and announced that they will take the brothers to court over their conduct, and begin legal proceedings “this very week” – according to a report in newspaper, La Opinión.
The investigators have passed their judgment on the schools management, suggesting that their motivation was pure greed, and that the fraud was carried out, they claim: “With evident intention and the aim to profit.”