SATURDAY, March 02, 2024

Chiang Mai teacher found guilty in school lunch case

Chiang Mai teacher found guilty in school lunch case

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on Friday ruled that Chaiyot Suktor, a former senior teacher in Chiang Mai province, was guilty of nonfeasance following allegations of corruption in the school lunch programme that he was supervising.

NACC’s assistant secretary-general Phuthep Thaweechotthanakul said that although Chaiyot, 57, was found guilty for his role in the lunch programme, he was still eligible for a pension and medical benefits as a teacher despite being dismissed.

Chaiyot made national headlines earlier this week after Yangpao School in Omkoi district dismissed him following a former school administrator’s accusation of mismanagement in the student lunch programme. Chaiyot served as a member of the lunch inspection committee.

Chaiyot and three others were accused of redirecting food earmarked for primary school students to secondary level students, a move which he said was intended to help the latter, who were mostly from poor families.

The former teacher has received significant moral support from netizens following his dismissal.

Chiang Mai teacher found guilty in school lunch case

However, Phuthep said on Friday that the NACC did not find Chaiyot guilty of food misdistribution, noting that leftover foods can be distributed to any suitable recipients provided the portion for the target group has already been met.

Rather, the anti-graft agency discovered that the procurement process of the school’s lunch project did not follow the state regulations, he added.

Phuthep said the lunch committee did not ask food sellers to issue receipts, a requirement for any procurement worth more than 500 baht, adding that had Chaiyot performed his duties correctly, he would have noticed this aberration.

The school has purchased foods worth 60,000 baht each week from suppliers in the province over a period of 15 weeks.

Phuthep added that Chaiyot’s statement that he inspected the foods supplied to the school three times a day also contradicts that of the sellers, who claimed that they supplied the food once a week.

Responding to NACC’s ruling, Chaiyot said on Friday that he has no intention of scamming the school, adding he had only accepted the role of inspector because the school was short-staffed, despite having limited knowledge about the financial or procurement regulations.

The teacher said that he had to sell his fruit plantation to fund his legal appeal, as he had refused to accept donations from fellow teachers and school alumni.