By WorkPro founder, Tania Evans.
This was a subject of a debate between my husband and I on our ‘only 4 reasons to go out’ dog walk this morning.
The debate was sparked following an article I had read that a former Principal who taught at some of Melbourne’s most prestigious schools over a five-decade career had been charged with ‘obtaining financial advantage by deception’ after pocketing a salary to which he was never entitled.
It was alleged that Neil Lennie did not hold a teaching degree, rather, he adopted his father’s teaching registration in the late 60’s, lied about this qualifications, added several qualifications to his CV during his career and repeatedly rejected demands by the Victorian Institute of Teaching to produce his qualifications as part of his teaching registration. Did not one school check any qualification or registration?
My husband’s view was that he would not necessarily validate a qualification from 1974 if ‘the person had continuously worked in the industry for a long period of time and this experience was substantiated by the previous schools where he held senior roles.’
My husband more broadly considered the positive contribution that the individual had made to the school, students, parents, and the local community.
My view is different. Positive contribution and experience aside, I come from a position of compliance, whereby there are regulatory obligations in certain sectors that need to be upheld during the hiring process and ongoing employment. Through WorkPro, I have spent more than a decade helping businesses ensure the safety of their workers and mitigate risk through comprehensive compliance solutions to prevent issues like this from happening. Imagine if there were 300, 800, 3,000, or even 10,000 Neil Lennie’s? There is a reason that we have laws, regulations, and standards – a benchmark to measure against.
So how did this happen? How was a person employed in so many schools, yet his credentials remained unvalidated? If not the 1974 degree, then what about the more recently gained qualifications? They remained unsubstantiated.
Where are the compliance records? Who was at least monitoring the teaching registration across several schools?
Several schools brands are now called in to question. Children have been taught by someone without an actual qualification, and he gained financially based on lies.
The law has now caught up with Mr Lennie and he faces 10 years in jail, but the lesson here is that compliance is not a choice. Compliance does differ between sectors and roles, nurses vs hospitality worker for example but employers need to implement systematic checks and balances for their organisation, follow those agreed requirements, have records in place, and transparent reporting available at the highest level of the organisation.