The Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles!

Subtitle

2009 : Jean Illingworth, Djarragun College principal and chief executive, was named Senior Citizen of the Year.

2009 : Djarragun College principal and chief executive Jean Illingworth was named Queensland's Senior Citizen of the Year for her contribution to indigenous education.

Djarragun College at Gordonvale, south of Cairns in Far North Queensland, was one of Australia's showpiece indigenous education centres.

 

Jean Illingworth's annual salary, as principal of Djarragun College, was $288,000.

 

 

Model indigenous college fights claims, Tony Koch and Sarah Elks, The Australian, 9 March 2011

Extended jail not likely despite late guilty plea, Sarah Elks, p.2, The Cairns Post,  30 September 2014

The end of 2009 : Rod Jensen began working at Djarragun.

Champion Aboriginal footballer Rod Jensen, former North Queensland Cowboys utility and a qualified teacher, began working at Djarragun's Gordonvale campus after a year playing for the Huddersfield Giants in the British Super League competition.

A crucial part of Jensen's role was to run the Sporting Chance program - a $360,000-a-year federal government initiative to use sport to improve indigenous students' attendance, attitude and academic results.

When Jensen arrived at the school he was dismayed to find the program - for which the school had received funding for at least three years - was virtually non-existent.

His academy was getting full taxpayer funding to cater for 175 students, but fewer than half were turning up.

Some were wandering the streets.

 

Indigenous Djarragun College 'road to nowhere', Sarah Elks and Tony Koch, The Australian, 10 March 2011 

January 2010 : One witness overhears a conversation, then tells Jean Illingworth to "stick it".

One witness, who worked at Djarragun College for about a decade, gave evidence during the committal hearing in Cairns Magistrates Court.

The witness said she overhead a conversation with another senior member of staff in 2010.

"Jean said 'we're going to have to inflate figures because we're not getting enough funding','' the witness told the court yesterday.

The other staffer's response was allegedly : "You have to stop doing this Jean because you're going to get caught''.

"That's when my ears pricked up,'' the witness said.

 

The witness said the conversation took place a few weeks before she told Illingworth to "stick it'' and quit her job in February 2010.

 

Court told of ghost pupils as principal `inflated figures for funds', Grace Uhr, The Courier-Mail, 18 December 2013  http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/court-told-of-ghost-pupils-as-principal-inflated-figures-for-funds/story-fnihsrf2-1226785402136
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November 2010 : Mathew Curtis, Head of Djarragun senior school, and Louise Redmond, Djarragun's chief operating officer, left the college. 

November 2010 : Head of Djarragun College senior School Mathew Curtis left the college after his position was made redundant.

 

Chief operating officer Louise Redmond also left the Djarragun in late 2010.

 

Louise Redmond said Djarragun College had staff turnover of almost 50 per cent a year. 

 

 

Model indigenous college fights claims, Tony Koch and Sarah Elks, The Australian, 9 March 2011

The end of January 2011 - Rod Jensen quit his job at Djarragun.

Rod Jensen quit as the manager of Djarragun's Sports Academy, frustrated at what he saw as a lack of accountability for government funding and a shocking lack of academic achievement.

Jensen says he was not tough enough to put up with employment conditions at Djarragun College.

"There was no way the school would have let me suggest that because we had fewer kids we should get less funding," he said.

Jensen said the program was not delivering, or even aiming to deliver, academic results.

 

Djarragun principal and chief executive Jean Illingworth yesterday denied that sport funding was misused and said she was unaware that fewer than half the students enrolled in the sports academy attended training or lessons.

"Rod did not come to me with this information, and the problem as I saw it was that Rod was not a good manager," she said.

 

Indigenous Djarragun College 'road to nowhere', Sarah Elks and Tony Koch, The Australian, 10 March 2011 

Between November 2010 and March 2011 : Mathew Curtis and Louise Redmond wrote to the members of Djarragun College board.
 
Mathew Curtis wrote to the Djarragun College board, alleging that the recorded enrolment at the Gordonvale campus was exaggerated.

Mr Curtis wrote that, in the month before he left, the senior school under his management was accused by Ms Illingworth of "losing" more than 120 students and consequent government funding.

His letter to the board said that after investigating the "so-called lost students" he discovered that just over one-third of that group had "never turned up or have been left on the rolls and are therefore not lost to the school, as they have never been there in the first place".

His letter warned that "should these facts be made public and found to be correct, the school may well be accountable for misappropriation of government funding on a significant scale".

 

Separately, former chief operating officer Louise Redmond wrote to members of the school board and to the Anglican bishop for North Queensland, Bill Ray, expressing concern about practices at the college.

 

Djarragun College is controlled jointly by the Anglican Church and receives more than $10 million annually in state and federal funding.

Almost all the students come from remote Aboriginal and Islander communities.

According to the My School website, the federal government funded Djarragun at the rate of $11,568 a student in 2009, while the Queensland government kicked in $4130 a student.

An extra $8000 is paid by the federal government if the student is a full-time boarder.

 

Mr Curtis told The Australian the recorded enrolment at the college's Gordonvale campus was exaggerated by at least 70 students.

 

 

Model indigenous college fights claims, Tony Koch and Sarah Elks, The Australian, 9 March 2011

17 March 2011 : Vimal Shankaran, assistant principal at Djarragun, is allegedly asked to randomly fill out blank attendance forms.

Vimal Shankaran, assistant principal at Djarragun from 2004 to 2011, described Jean Illingworth as a mentor and mother figure.

Mr Shankaran told Cairns Magistrates Court that while an audit was being carried out in March 2011 Illingworth told him and two other staffers to fill out blank attendance records.

"We just randomly marked (whether the students were present or absent)," he told the committal hearing.

Mr Shankaran says he took the file home intending to continue filling out the forms - which he says Illingworth told him to do - but instead burned them.

"When I took the information with me that night ... at the time I told my wife that this was not the right thing to do, morally,".

"I phoned (another staffer) and told her it wasn't on and I wasn't going to do it," he said.

 

 
Qld teachers asked to inflate attendances, Cleo Fraser, AAP, 18 December 2013 :  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/qld-teachers-asked-to-inflate-attendances/story-fn3dxiwe-1226786141662

Principal made us do it, Grace Uhr, P.19, The Courier-Mail, 19 December 2013

 

18 March 2011 : auditors attended Djarragun.

Jean Illingworth was stood down as principal on March 18, 2011, on the same day auditors attended the school.

 

Committal in Cairns told of calls to high places, Caitlin Guilfoyle, The Cairns Post, 28 November 2013 :   http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/committal-in-cairms-told-of-calls-to-high-places/story-fnjpusyw-1226770176587

March 2011 : Cairns lawyer Jim Brooks conducted an investigation into allegations of workplace bullying, wrongful dismissal and exagerated enrolment figures at Djarragun College begin.

Cairns lawyer Jim Brooks investigated allegations of -

a) bullying of staff,
b) wrongful dismissal of teachers,
c) exagerated enrolment figures at Djarragun.

 

Mr Brooks's investigation was to be completed by March 17 2011.

 

Among the triggers for the investigation were the claims by Mathew Curtis that the recorded enrolment at the Gordonvale campus was exaggerated.

Jean Illingworth said it was impossible to manipulate enrolment figures and this was not done under her administration.

 

Ms Illingworth said: "There are people trying to undermine me and people on my team and it is malicious and vindictive."

She named Ms Redmond and Mr Curtis as among those campaigning to have her removed as head of the college.

 

Both Ms Redmond and Mr Curtis denied Ms Illingworth's claims that they were malicious and vindictive in publicising concerns about the running of Djarragun College.

 

Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett ordered his department to look into claims about Djarragun's enrolment figures.

 

 

Model indigenous college fights claims, Tony Koch and Sarah Elks, The Australian, 9 March 2011

During the first week of April 2011 : Whistleblower Mathew Curtis was interviewed by federal education department officials.

Whistleblower Mathew Curtis, former head of senior school at Djarragun,was interviewed for two and a half hours by two federal education department officials during the first week of April 2011.

Mr Curtis said that he provided the investigators with a dossier of information, including class rolls for the 2010 senior school, confirmation of student results by the Queensland Studies Authority, class lists, timetables and staffing allocations.

 

Whistleblower interviewed in connection with showpiece school investigation, Sarah Elks, Tony Koch, The Australian, 13 April 2011.

April 2011 : an audit discovered that funding for 250 missing Djarragun students had been wrongly claimed over three years.

An audit discovered Djarragun had wrongly claimed government funding for 250 missing students over three years.

Djarragun was being investigated by Queensland Police's fraud squad.

 

Djarragun 'rife with nepotism', says review , Sarah Elks, The Australian, 22 August 2011

July 2011 : Jean Illingworth allegedly listed those who needed to be "sacked and replaced" at Djarragun.

Jean Illingworth allegedly sent an email to businessman Mr John Benson and Mr Noel Pearson in July 2011, which included an "action plan" with a list of those who needed to be "sacked and replaced" at Djarragun College.

 

Committal in Cairns told of calls to high places, Caitlin Guilfoyle, The Cairns Post, 28 November 2013 :   http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/committal-in-cairms-told-of-calls-to-high-places/story-fnjpusyw-1226770176587

July 2011 : Vimal Shankaran was afraid that he would no longer be able to work as a teacher if he was convicted for falsifying documents.

Vimal Shankaran lied to police in his first statement in July 2011.

But later he told police Illingworth had instructed him to fill out the enrolment forms.

Mr Shankaran said he had been in a difficult position and feared he would no longer be able to work as a teacher if convicted for falsifying records.

 

 
Qld teachers asked to inflate attendances, Cleo Fraser, AAP, 18 December 2013 :  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/qld-teachers-asked-to-inflate-attendances/story-fn3dxiwe-1226786141662
13 July 2011 :  Noel Pearson's Cape York Partnerships rescued Djarragun, but the staff were worried that Jean Illingworth might return.

Noel Pearson's Cape York Partnerships signed an agreement to transfer ownership of Djarragun College.

Di Drew, acting principal, said a number of Djarragun employees were still worried about the possibility of Jean Illingworth returning.

"Concerns in relation to bullying were raised but that comes down to the experiences that individual staff have had with Ms Illingworth in the past," she said.

"I do know that there were some initial conversations about the possibility [of Ms Illingworth assisting] in terms of a hand over and information sharing process.

"But since that time there have been conversations between the board and Cape York Partnerships about limited involvement of Ms Illingworth in relation to the college."

  

The Chairman of Djarragun College Ltd., Barry Osbourne, says Cape York Partnerships assured him Ms Illingworth wouldn't be back.

"That was shared with all staff at a meeting with two representatives from Cape York Partnerships," Mr Osbourne said.

 

Djarragun College is estimated to be around $3 million in debt.

 

Principal won't return says Djarragun board member, ABC Far North Queensland, 13 July, 2011 9:20PM AEST

22 August 2011 : Cairns solicitor Jim Brooks concluded that many concerns raised by Djarragun staff are legitimate.

Cairns solicitor Jim Brooks concluded that principal Jean Illingworth had led a school that operated on a "hierarchy of favouritism" of staff, employed unregistered teachers and sacked employees unfairly.

His report lists at least 10 examples of employees' family being given jobs at the school, including Ms Illingworth's daughter.

 

"Such a circumstance can only be the result of insular, if not nepotistic, rather than merit-based selection processes," Mr Brooks writes.

 

The report is based on 35 interviews with 24 current and former Djarragun staff, including three interviews with Ms Illingworth, who has denied any wrongdoing. 

Ms Illingworth argued the report was "fundamentally flawed, is biased and failed to ensure a process of natural justice".

Ms Illingworth said the complaints had arisen from "disgruntled former staff whose employment was terminated because of poor performance" and a campaign by former chief operating officer Louise Redmond to discredit her.

 

 

But Jim Brooks said that many of the concerns raised by Louise Redmond were legitimate and not all complaints arose from "malcontents".

 

Djarragun 'rife with nepotism', says review , Sarah Elks, The Australian, 22 August 2011

 

28 September 2011: former Djarragun assistant principal Matthew Curtis awarded $25,000.

Matthew Curtis, the former assistant principal of Djarragun College,has been awarded more than $25,000 for harsh and unfair dismissal.

In November 2010 the college claimed that Mr Curtis's job, as senior school and VET head, had been scrapped and the role wasn't filled again after he left.

But the tribunal received statements from five other Djarragun staff who said that Mr Curtis was actually replaced by two new teachers.

The college argued that Mr Curtis's job had been split into two "lower level" jobs and that his redundancy was genuine.

But Fair Work Australia ruled in Mr Curtis's favour, agreeing that his redundancy was not genuine.

"The termination of the applicant's employment did not relate to a genuine redundancy but was a harsh and unfair dismissal of the applicant," the Fair Work Australia decision concluded.

Mr Curtis wanted his job at Djarragun back but the tribunal decided to award him $25,090 - about 15 weeks' pay.

The tribunal ruled that long-term employment at Djarragun might not be realistic for Mr Curtis because of the school's financial problems.

 

$25,000 for unfair dismissal, The Cairns Post, 28 September 2011, published on www.kooriweb.org.

January 2013 : Jean Illingworth was charged with fraud.

Jean Illingworth was charged with fraud.

She was banned from contacting witnesses.

'Fraudster' principal Jean Illingworth allegedly contacting witnesses, Cleo Fraser, AAP, 18 July 2013.

2013 : Vimal Shankarn is allegedly asked to sign a letter in support of Jean Illingworth.

Vimal Shankaran told Cairns Magistrates Court his friend Ludo Kuipers asked him to sign a letter in support of Jean Illingworth in 2013.

The letter, which appeared to be written by Mr Shankaran, said he wanted to admit that he told police only "half the truth" and that he overheard Illingworth tell a staffer not to make up student attendance roles.

Mr Shankaran told the court these statements weren't true.

He gave the letter to police.

 

Jean Illingworth denies any wrongdoing.

 

 
Qld teachers asked to inflate attendances, Cleo Fraser, AAP, 18 December 2013 :  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/qld-teachers-asked-to-inflate-attendances/story-fn3dxiwe-1226786141662
17 July 2013 : Jean Illingworth was remanded overnight.

Jean Illingworth, 65, handed herself in to Cairns detectives at lunchtime.

She was remanded overnight.

She will apply for bail tomorrow morning.

Ms Illingworth was charged with two counts of breaching bail and one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Ms Illingworth is accused of wrongly claiming 3.5 million dollars from the Queensland Government and 5.4 million dollars from the Commonwealth Government.

Principal facing bail charges, Grace Uhr, P.9, The Courier-Mail, 18 July 2013.

18 July 2013 : Jean Illingworth was behind bars.

Police allege Jean Illingworth asked a friend to deliver a false statutory declaration to a witness - a former teacher at the school - for them to sign.

Ms Illingworth is also accused of meeting with another witness in her case.

If proven, this constitutes a breach of Ms Illingworth's bail conditions.

During a bail application in Cairns Magistrates Court, Crown Prosecutor Peter Austen argued bail be refused as Illingworth had put the case in jeopardy.

"The seriousness (of the fraud charges against her) can't be understated," he said.

"If found guilty she will face a lengthy imprisonment."

Bail was denied as the court magistrate said there was a risk Ms Illingworth would breach her bail conditions.

 

Illingworth was shaking and crying in court.

 

 

'Fraudster' principal Jean Illingworth allegedly contacting witnesses, Cleo Fraser, AAP, 18 July 2013.

Witness tamper case has new date, Melanie Petrinec, P.3, The Courier-Mail, 6 September 2013.

August 2013 : Jean Illingworth is charged with a second count of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Police charged Ms Illingworth with a second count of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

This count related to an incident at Tolga between June 1 and 30 2013.

 

 

Witness tamper case has new date, Melanie Petrinec, P.3, The Courier-Mail, 6 September 2013.

Former Djarragun College principal to face more charges, Kirsty Nancarrow, ABC NEWS INDIGENOUS, 5 September 2013

2 August 2013 : Jean Illingworth made a WorkCover claim.

Jean Illingworth filed a last-minute District Court lawsuit for WorkCover compensation.

Ms Illingworth claims she has been suffering from a psychiatric illness since 2010, two years after she allegedly began an enrolment fraud at Djarragun.

In documents filed in the District Court, Ms Illingworth's lawyers said their client suffered the psychiatric illness because of "incompetent management and a lack of support from the board".

The documents allege that her condition was also a result of "excessive work duties and work hours" in her dual role as both principal and chief executive of the college.

 

Ex-principal sues school for strain, Michael McKenna, The Australian, P.2, The Cairns Post, 2 August 2013.

28 August 2013 : Queensland Police provided Jean Illingworth's defence team with a brief of evidence.

On 28 August 2013 the Queensland Police provided Ms Illingworth's defence team with a brief of evidence containing specific details of the allegations involving two charges of attempting to pervert justice and one breach of bail count.

 

 

Witness tamper case has new date, Melanie Petrinec, P.3, The Courier-Mail, 6 September 2013.

2 October 2013 : the attempting to pervert justice charges and the charge of breaching bail will be mentioned in court.

The attempting to pervert justice charges and one count of breaching bail will be mentioned in court on 2 October 2013.

That case will run separately to the fraud allegations. 

 

 

Witness tamper case has new date, Melanie Petrinec, P.3, The Courier-Mail, 6 September 2013.

25 November 2013 : Jean Illingworth will face a committal hearing regarding the fraud allegations.

On 25 November 2013 Ms Illingworth will face a committal hearing regarding the fraud allegations.

More than 20 people will give evidence.

The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence for Ms illingworth to face the District Court.

Ms Illingworth is in custody in Townsville.

 

 

Witness tamper case has new date, Melanie Petrinec, P.3, The Courier-Mail, 6 September 2013.

22 November 2013 : the prosecutor alleges that teenagers who were in prison, employed, expelled or who never attended classes were all enrolled at Djarragun.

On Friday 22 November 2013, Jean Illingworth faced Cairns Magistrates Court for the first day of a four-day committal hearing into an alleged $9 million fraud.

Ms Illingworth, 66-year-old, denies any wrong-doing.

She faces two charges each of fraud and perverting the course of justice.

In outlining the case against Ms Illingworth, prosecutor Michael Cowan alleged she enrolled a number of children who never attended classes.

He said this included teenagers who were in prison or employed and others who were either too young or too old.

Teenagers who had been expelled and "chronic truants" were also kept on the roster, he said.

The school received $20,000 in state and federal funding for each student.

Mr Cowan said there was an enrolment drive across Cape York where children were enrolled but didn't show up at the school.

Mr Cowan said the school was running at an unsustainable level and funds were used to keep it going.

 

Mr Cowan said it was also alleged Ms Illingworth created more false attendance rolls at home after she was stood down, (and she then) delivered (the false attendance rolls) to Cape York Partnerships accountants, who had taken over the school.

 

Mr Cowan said one of the charges related to a statement in a letter "allegedly" drafted by former staff member Vimal Shankaran and addressed to businessman John Benson.

Ms Illingworth was accused of having a man fly to Thursday Island with the letter to see Mr Shankaran in a bid to persuade him to sign a new statement.

 

Ms Illingworth's lawyer Tony Kimmins questioned lead investigator Detective Sergeant Sheridan Heaton over interviews she conducted with a key witness, a former teacher at the school.

Det Heaton says she didn't take notes during the interviews which weren't recorded, as was normal practice.

 

Crims enrolled in fake student scam: courtCleo Fraser, aap, 22 November 2013 : http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/19971776/crims-enrolled-in-fake-student-scam-court/

Djarragun head 'used names of prisoners', Caitlin Guilfoyle, The Australian, 23 November 2013  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/djarragun-head-used-names-of-prisoners/story-e6frg6nf-1226766434122

Monday 25 November 2013 : Rod Jensen gives evidence in Cairns Magistrates Court.
Rod Jensen, Former North Queensland Cowboys utility, gave evidence during the second day of committal proceedings for Ms Jean Illingwort.

Mr Jensen told the Cairns Magistrates Court he ran the Djarragun sports academy.

He said he asked to use the school's Denbigh student management system to source students for the sports program.

He told the court he questioned the amount of money going to the program because he believed that students who were supposed to be part of it were no longer at the school.

"I was really concerned about how many students were in the sports academy ... if they were attending, the funds would have to be accounted for," Mr Jensen told the court.

"There were a lot of kids who were entered who weren't participating in school."

Mr Jensen said he sat down with another staff member to do a variation on the program to present to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).

"We initially didn't want to do a variation, we thought we should just return the funds," Mr Jensen said.

 

Mr Jensen told the court the DEEWR suggested they write the variations and "keep the numbers as they were".

 

Committal hearing in Cairns told of student number confusion at Djarragun College, Caitlin Guilfoyle, The Cairns Post, 26 November 2013 http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/committal-hearing-in-cairns-told-of-student-number-confusion-at-djarragun-college/story-fnjpusyw-1226768339312

Monday 25 November 2013 : Adam Lee, network engineer, gives evidence.

Network engineer Adam Lee was also cross-examined in Cairns Magistrates' Court.

Mr Lee described going to school assemblies on a number of occasions to take a physical head count in order to check the system's accuracy.

"There seemed to be a fair discrepancy, more than 100 students, between who was attending each day and who was on the rolls," he told the court.

 

 

Committal hearing in Cairns told of student number confusion at Djarragun College, Caitlin Guilfoyle, The Cairns Post, 26 November 2013 http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/committal-hearing-in-cairns-told-of-student-number-confusion-at-djarragun-college/story-fnjpusyw-1226768339312

Monday November 25 2013 : Chartered accountant Paul Campey gives evidence in Cairns Magistrates Court.

Chartered accountant Paul Campey, who had done non-financial audits on Djarragun school, also gave evidence yesterday.

During cross-examination, Mr Campey agreed it was possible a student could have attended the school for "half a year" but may have failed to be included on the census audit because of the time of year the audits were completed.

 

Committal hearing in Cairns told of student number confusion at Djarragun College, Caitlin Guilfoyle, The Cairns Post, 26 November 2013 http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/committal-hearing-in-cairns-told-of-student-number-confusion-at-djarragun-college/story-fnjpusyw-1226768339312

Wednesday 27 November 2013 : Francesca Shankaran gives evidence in Cairns Magistrates Court.
Djarragun College teacher Francesca Shankaran told Cairns Magistrates Court her former husband, Vimal Shankaran, had brought home what she understood to be school attendance rolls soon after Jean Illingworth was stood down.

 

Committal in Cairns told of calls to high places, Caitlin Guilfoyle, The Cairns Post, 28 November 2013 :   http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/committal-in-cairms-told-of-calls-to-high-places/story-fnjpusyw-1226770176587

Tuesday 26 November 2013 : Ann Hopkins gives evidence in Cairns Magistrates Court.
Wednesday 27 November 2013 : businessman John Benson gives evidence in Cairns Magistrates Court.
 
Businessman John Benson told Cairns Magistrates Court he was a friend of Jean Illingworth.

Mr Benson told the court he had been a "strong supporter and sponsor of efforts" at Djarragun College and said he had supported Cape York Partnerships executive chairman Noel Pearson via programs assisting indigenous housing and job creation.

"What political assistance did you seek to render Jean Illingworth?" prosecutor Michael Cowen asked.

Mr Benson said he had communication with State and Federal governments "through various entities".

He "sought to see if there was a way to resolve the problems" administratively.

Mr Cowen questioned Mr Benson about a number of emails sent between Ms Illingworth, Mr Benson and Mr Pearson in 2011 and 2012.

 

Mr Benson sent an email to Ms Illingworth on December 14, 2012, which stated "Noel's call to Peter Garrett was a bad move" as well as "I went back to PK".

 

Mr Cowen questioned Mr Benson to what did "PK" refer.

"It's the initials of previous Prime Minister Paul Keating," he said.

 

Defence barrister Tony Kimmins, instructed by O'Reilly Stevens Lawyers, elected not to cross-examine Mr Benson.

 

Committal in Cairns told of calls to high places, Caitlin Guilfoyle, The Cairns Post, 28 November 2013 :   http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/committal-in-cairms-told-of-calls-to-high-places/story-fnjpusyw-1226770176587

Mathew Curtis, former senior school head at Djarragun, gives evidence.

Mathew Curtis, former senior school head at Djarragun, blew the whistle on discrepancies at the school.

Mr Curtis told the court he undertook a private investigation into student numbers at Djarragun when he was told by Ms Illingworth there were 100 students missing from the senior school.

He said that claim was "ludicrous and stupid'' given he was aware there were 136 senior students and he had not noticed that level of absenteeism.

"I couldn't work out how 100 disappeared,'' he said.

"That would have left me with 36 students. I think I would have noticed that."

He told the court his investigation had found 72 of the supposedly missing students had not attended while he was teaching there, including one who was in jail at Lotus Glen.

The court heard Mr Curtis had compiled rolls and other information and sent it to police headquarters in Brisbane.

Mr Curtis said he was just "doing what's right'' when he sent police the 200-page dossier which questioned student numbers.

 

Defence barrister Tony Kimmins asked Mr Curtis why he never queried the missing students to Illingworth.

Mr Curtis said he had decided to investigate the issue himself.

 

The court heard that when Mr Curtis was made redundant in December 2010, a letter signed by Illingworth stated there were 150 missing students.

 

Court told of ghost pupils as principal `inflated figures for funds', Grace Uhr, The Courier-Mail, 18 December 2013 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/court-told-of-ghost-pupils-as-principal-inflated-figures-for-funds/story-fnihsrf2-1226785402136
Wednesday 18 December 2013 : Jean Illingworth is charged with breaching her bail conditions.
 
Jean Illingworth was charged with breaching her bail conditions after she allegedly spoke to a witness, a former staffer, during a break in committal proceedings at Cairns Magistrates Court on Wednesday 18 December 2013.

The new charge will be dealt with later on Thursday 19 December 2013.

Ms Illingworth already faces two charges each of breaching bail and attempting to pervert the course of justice, as well as the more serious charges of fraud and obtaining financial advantage by deception.

 

Former Djarragun College principal Jean Illingworth faces fresh charges, 19 December 2013, AAP, The Brisbane Times : Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/former-djarragun-college-principal-jean-illingworth-faces-fresh-charges-20131219-2zmxt.html#ixzz2nuQf2qoo

Wednesday 18 December 2013 : the prosecutor suggested that the accused's family members be removed from the courtroom.

When teacher Vimal Shankaran was giving evidence at the Cairns Magistrates Court, he was asked by prosecutor Michael Cowan who else was in the room when the rolls were marked.

At this point someone in the gallery coughed.

The prosecutor suggested to Magistrate Sandra Pearson that she consider removing the accused's family members from the courtroom.

Accusations were made that they were intimidating witnesses on the stand.

Ms Pearson issued a general warning to all gallery members not to disrupt proceedings.

 

Principal made us do it, Grace Uhr, P.19, The Courier-Mail, 19 December 2013

Wednesday 18 December 2013 : Peggy Chigeza gives evidence in Cairns Magistrates Court.

Another Djarragun staff member, Peggy Chigeza, was questioned about an email she had handed to police which Ms Illingworth allegedly sent in March 2011.

The court heard that Ms Illingworth wrote in the email that she had been advised by Noel Pearson's public relations officer to find students who would post on social media supporting the school after a critical newspaper story.

 

Principal made us do it, Grace Uhr, P.19, The Courier-Mail, 19 December 2013

Thursday 19 December 2013 : made-up statements for others were allegedly found on Jean Illingworth's computer.
 
Prosecutor Michael Cowan argued there was enough evidence to prove Ms Illingworth attempted to pervert the course of justice by writing a letter and asking a witness to sign it.

The letter claimed the witness had given false details to police and that a lead detective in the case had tried to bully him during interviews.

Ms Illingworth tried to undermine witnesses by writing the letter and other documents found on her computer showed a proliferation of made-up statements for others, Mr Cowan claimed.

 

Defence lawyer Tony Kimmins says the letter "might as well be used as toilet paper" as it wasn't signed by the witness.

There was no evidence of intimidating threats to make the witness sign the letter and Ms Illingworth wasn't present when the letter was handed to the witness by a mutual friend, Mr Kimmins said.

And the witness had been told he could change the letter if he wished.

 

Former Djarragun College principal Jean Illingworth faces fresh charges, 19 December 2013, AAP, The Brisbane Times 

Thursday 19 December : the prosecutor argues that Jean Illingworth should not be released on bail.
During a bail application on the afternoon of Thursday 19 December 2013, prosecutor Michael Cowan argued Ms Illingworth should not be released because she would likely contact witnesses - which she has already admitted doing three times this year.

He described the 66-year-old as an "extreme manipulator" who had undermined the prosecution's case since the beginning.

"She's been the queen bee (at the college) and she's not able to let it go," Mr Cowan said.

"She will continue to contact witnesses - she can't help herself. It's almost offensive."

 

Mr Cowan says Jean Illingworth  manipulated and tried to influence a number of staff members after being stood down, although the school had said she couldn't contact her colleagues.

 

"It was a concerted campaign to undermine people who turned out to be prosecution witnesses," he said.

Mr Cowan said Illingworth drafted emails on behalf of staff members and suggested they put their names to them.

 

In one email, read to the court, Ms Illingworth deliberately included spelling mistakes which Mr Cowan says was to give it authenticity as it was supposedly written by an Aboriginal man.

 

Ms Illingworth believed she could act in a certain way because she had the backing of some influential people, he says.

 

Defence lawyer Tony Kimmins argued his client should be released on bail and says claims by Mr Cowan relate to alleged incidents that took place before Ms Illingworth was charged in January.

 

He also says there was a culture of "cat-fighting" and "back-stabbing" at the college.

 

Mr Kimmins says Illingworth's family were prepared to put down a $100,000 bond.

He suggested attaching bail conditions including that she mustn't use the internet or send emails.

 

 

Fraud accused principal was 'queen bee', ninemsn, December 19, 2013 http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2013/12/19/13/40/fraud-case-principal-faces-bail-charge

19 December 2013 : Jean Illingworth pleads guilty to three charges.
Fraud case principal Jean Illingworth still being paid: court, AAP, 19 December 2013 :  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/fraud-case-principal-jean-illingworth-still-being-paid-court/story-e6frg6nf-1226786776143
19 December 2013 : Jean Illingworth will go on trial for more charges.

Ms Illingworth will go on trial for these charges at the Cairns District Court on a date to be set.

She has entered no plea to these charges and has previously denied any wrongdoing.

A bail application was later under way.

 

 

Fraud case principal Jean Illingworth still being paid: court, AAP, 19 December 2013 :  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/fraud-case-principal-jean-illingworth-still-being-paid-court/story-e6frg6nf-1226786776143
Friday 20 December 2013 : Jean Illingworth will spend Christmas in Jail.
Jean Illingworth's application for bail was refused in the Cairns Magistrates Court on Friday over concerns she might contact witnesses.

So she will spend Christmas behind bars.

Magistrate Sandra Pearson told the court on Friday 20 December 2013 that bail was refused because Illingworth couldn't be trusted not to contact witnesses.

Magistrate Pearson said Illingworth had attempted on several occasions to influence people involved in the case.

 

Prosecutor Michael Cowan has described Illingworth as an "extreme manipulator" who had undermined the prosecution's case since the beginning.

 

Defence lawyer Tony Kimmins argued that his client should be released on bail as it would make it difficult to prepare her case if she was held in custody 350 kilometres away in a Townsville prison.

 

Ms Illingworth was taken into custody five months ago after breaching her bail conditions by contacting a witness.

She also faces two charges of perverting the course of justice for allegedly asking a witness to sign a false letter and asking another witness to say they wrote the letter.

 

The trial is expected to take place after June next year and will likely take six to eight weeks.

 

Ms Pearson said Ms Illingworth could be imprisoned for years if found guilty on all charges.

 

Qld principal to spend Christmas in jail, Cleo Fraser, AAP, The Australian, 20 December 2013 : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/qld-principal-to-spend-christmas-in-jail/story-fn3dxiwe-1226787525172

29 September 2014 : Jean Illingworth pleads guilty to defrauding the taxpayer of $3.4 million.

Jean Illingworth has made an eleventh-hour guilty plea moments before her five-week Cairns District Court trial was due to start.

More than 100 witnesses were due to be called.

The 67-year-old stood in the prisoner's dock and answered "guilty" when asked by Judge Martin's associate how she wished to plead to the remaining charges.

In a deal negotiated with prosecutors, Illingworth pleaded guilty to two of the 11 charges she was facing, reducing the total defrauded from $9m to $3.4m, but not diminishing the criminality.

The two offences to which Illingworth has confessed carry maximum sentences of 10 and 12 years' jail.

Illingworth has already spent one year in jail.

She is unlikely to spend more time in prison.

Djarragun College's debt has been waived by the state and federal governments, a decision criticised by some insiders. 

 

Extended jail not likely despite late guilty plea, Sarah Elks, P.2, The Cairns Post,  Thursday 30 September 2014.

Grade F for fraud : Lies to get more cash for school, Sarah Elks, P. 11 The Courier-Mail, 30 September 2014

3 October 2014 :  Jean Illingworth walks free.

 "Let there be no doubt that you abandoned your fundamental principals of honesty and integrity and committed blatant fraud," District Court Judge Terence Martin told Jean Illingworth in sentencing.

Illingworth had lied about the attendance of 242 non-existent students.

Judge Martin imposed concurrent jail terms of three years for defrauding the Queensland Government.

But Illingworth will not serve another day in jail.

She has already served 351 days in Townsville jail while on remand.

By pleading guilty, Illingworth saved the courts considerable time and money.

She also avoided having to explain her actions or her motives.

 

A five-week trial had been expected.

110 witnesses were to be called.

Judge Martin condemned Illingworth's defiance, which had protracted proceedings.

"Prior to Monday, you gave no indication of preparedness to plead guilty to any offence," he said.

"This is not in any way a criticism of your legal team, rather it is a reflection of your determination not to assist in the administration of justice."  

The prosecution painted an image of a manipulative and deliberately dishonest operator whose intellect and influence led her to believe she was beyond the reach of the law.

Crown prosecutor Michael Cowen said that when forensic auditors arrived in March 2011, Illingworth had used close members of staff to create false attendance roles.

Even after being stood down, Illingworth continued to falsify records on her personal laptop.

Emails revealed that Illingworth had pre-determined enrollment targets and lied to secure grants when numbers fell short.

"We will need at least 632 students or we'll miss out on a huge amount on the August census," she wrote in an email to staff.

"Each child is precious for more reason than the obvious."

The prosecution said "the defendant was aware that children represented money."

 

Illingworth walked out of court a free woman.

She had a $1000 fine.

She continued to receive her $283,000 salary till at least July 2014.

And she intends to teach again.

 

 

Principal Sin : Disgraced college head fined $1000 after ripping off $3.4m, Scott Forbes, p 1 and p.7, The Cairns Weekend Post, 4-5 October 2014.

Jean still wants to teach kids, Scott Forbes, p.7, The Cairns Weekend Post,4-5 October 2014 

College principal fraudster goes free, Andrew Fraser and Scott Forbes, The Weekend Australian, p.8, 4-5 October 2014.

Robina Cosser : Some questions remain -

Was Jean Illingworth a bad influence on her staff?

Did she pressure teachers to falsify documents?

What has been the effect of her behaviour on their health?

Their careers?

What will happen to the whistleblower teacher - who seems to have saved the Queensland Government a significant sum of money?

Will he be driven out of teaching?

Do whistleblowers - even when they are clearly in the right - always have to be 'paid back'?

This whistleblower teacher disclosed his suspicions to The Australian.

Then his concerns were investigated.

Is going to The Australian the most effective way for whistleblower teachers to leak their concerns?

How much has Jean Illingworth cost the taxpayers of Queensland, in total?

 

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