MOE aims to fire Yung Ta board

MALFEASANCE?:The school received ministry approval to sell some property to pay teachers’ pensions, but instead used the proceeds to repay one of its board members

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 21, 2019 - Page 4

The Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday said that it would petition for the dismissal of Yung Ta Institute of Technology and Commerce’s board, as the school in December last year stopped paying its former faculty members monthly pensions.

The school, which closed down in 2014, owes its teachers and administrative staff approximately NT$540,000 (US$17,514) after missing two monthly payments since December, Department of Technological and Vocational Education official Eric Ker (柯今尉) said.

According to regulations, the pensions of faculty members at private schools is paid by the ministry and their school, with each responsible for 50 percent of the total amount, he said.

By failing to pay its part, the school has breached the Civil Servant and Teacher Insurance Act (公教人員保險法), Ker said.

In addition, it contravened other regulations regarding the handling of school assets, failed to improve its finances and did not make improvements after repeated warnings from the ministry, he said.

“We believe the school board is incapable of maintaining the school’s normal operations,” Ker said.

As a result, the ministry is to petition the Pingtung District Court to remove all the board members according to Article 25 of the Private School Act (私立學校法) by the end of this month, he said, adding that a new board would be formed if the court approves.

The ministry made the announcement minutes after the Taiwan Higher Education Union told a news conference that the school has not been paying the pensions and criticized the ministry’s passive handling of the matter.

Evidence suggests that the school had multiple opportunities to secure enough money to cover the pensions, union office director Chen Shu-han (陳書涵) said.

The school in 2014 obtained the ministry’s approval to sell a part of its real estate to cover employees’ pensions, but the NT$145 million it made from the sale was instead used to pay back money owed to one of the board members against the ministry’s instructions, she said.

The school’s financial report also shows that it has been paying a relative of a board member NT$113 million to rent a plot of land from her, which is apparently unnecessary due to its closure, Chen said.

As the school shut down in 2014 due to low enrollment and financial difficulties, its net assets have dropped from NT$1.2 billion to NT$970 million, she said.

“Over the past four years, the board has been spending money on all kinds of unnecessary things, yet it is unable to pay teachers’ and staff’s pensions,” Chen said, adding that the average monthly pension the school should pay each retired employee is NT$2,700.

Lai Fu-lin (賴福林), a teacher laid off by the school in 2014, said that his monthly pension was already “very little,” because he was forced to withdraw it early due to the closure.

There are more than 100 former teachers and administrative staff who, like him, have not been receiving their pensions since December, he said.

“Where is the justice when retired teachers do not even have enough money to live?” he added

Lai said that he would like to know if there is any “unspeakable reason” that the ministry must wait until January next year to liquidate the school’s assets, other than the stated reason that more time would allow the school to transform into a new educational, cultural or social welfare institute.