Former principal cleared in corruption case

This week, a former principal who headed Laverton School in WA was found not guilty of acting corruptly as a public officer after a case in which his lawyer called a “waste of government funds”.

The trial took place in the District Court last week, with prosecutor, James Newton-Palmer, claiming the former principal, Kevin Riordan, had acted corruptly by failing to observe Education Department policies on the disposal of assets, which require the sale of any item to be put out to tender.

Riordan was sacked in 2013 after an internal investigation by the Education Departments' Standards and Integrity Unit found he had breached Departmental procedure by selling a demountable school building to a friend for $100.

Riordan’s lawyer, Linda Black, argued that while Riordan did not follow correct procedure, he “did not do so in a corrupt or dishonest manner”.

Black said Riordan’s consultation with Education Department officials and the completion of necessary paperwork indicated that he was attempting to follow procedure, and merely made an “honest mistake” in failing to comply with procedure.

She said that this error was made by a principal who was “extremely busy and wished to get rid of an unused building” which had become a problem for the school.

“This is a trial about bureaucracy gone crazy. This is a case of Mr Riordan trying to get rid of an eyesore, and something that was a big problem to the school,” she told the jury.

Riordan told the court that the termination of his job “had destroyed his life financially and emotionally”.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Is enough training being given to principals about departmental policies and procedures?