"Careless": School principal ordered to pay back $175K in stolen funds

Sep 12 2023, 9:00 pm

A principal has had their certification taken away after being accused of taking up to nearly $337,000 from their school.

According to a discipline document, Kelly Joseph Rambeau worked at an independent First Nation school in BC. Here, he had the authority to sign for the school and was required to report expenses, “including those that he personally incurred and submitted for reimbursement to the School.”

Then, in 2018, auditors flagged some financial irregularities related to the school’s petty cash, expense reimbursement forms, and travel claims. This prompted the school to investigate records kept from 2015 to 2018.

According to the commissioner, Rambeau would regularly submit credit card expenses to the school for repayment in his name and another person he’d hired to take care of administrative duties. However, multiple statements included costs not for or authorized by the school.

Despite being previously repaid for some statements, he’d seemingly resubmit documents again to receive reimbursement cheques issued to himself.

“A forensic account report found that between July 1, 2015, and October 23, 2018, Rambeau obtained between $286,287.92 to $337,133.89 from the school,” the discipline documents read.

School takes Rambeau to court

Rambeau was fired from the school in October 2018, and the next month, the school filed a civil lawsuit against him and the person he hired for administrative help.

The lawsuits alleged Rambeau used the money from the school to purchase or fund various properties.

Rambeau denied liability and disputed the findings in the report.

During the trial in June 2022, Rambeau eventually agreed to pay the school $175,000 to the school, apologize and acknowledge his conduct.

“I was careless with the school finances and benefited from those reimbursements for personal expenses that I was not entitled to,” he acknowledged in court.

Commissioner’s decision

The commissioner determined Rambeau compromised his position of trust, improperly benefitted from his position of authority, failed to carry himself as a role model, and displayed conduct that could have undermined the profession’s reputation.

Rambeau’s Professional Certificate of Qualification has been cancelled, but he can reapply for the same certificate or to teach.

Nikitha MartinsNikitha Martins

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