Ex-principal charged with overstating pupil numbers

Student numbers exaggerated to gain more teachers than school entitled to, court told

Helen O’Gorman with an address at Newtown Lawns, Mullingar, Co Westmeath appeared at Longford District Court on Friday morning. Image: Google Street View

Helen O’Gorman with an address at Newtown Lawns, Mullingar, Co Westmeath appeared at Longford District Court on Friday morning. Image: Google Street View

 

A former Co Longford primary school principal has been charged with fraudulently deceiving the Department of Education of €450,000 by overstating the number of pupils attending her school.

Helen O’Gorman, with an address at Newtown Lawns, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, appeared at a sitting of Longford District Court on Friday morning.

Ms O’Gorman, who had previously served as the principal of St Mary’s National School in Edgeworthstown, is charged with six counts of falsely attesting to the number of pupils at the school in order to secure a greater number of teachers and grant aid than the school was entitled to.

Two charges relate to the period between September 1st, 2012 to June 30th, 2013, when she is alleged to have dishonestly obtained funding for additional teaching posts and grant aid for 94 pupils who did not exist.

Two charges relate to the period January 1st, 2014 to June 30th, 2014, when she allegedly overstated pupil numbers by 95, and two charges relate to the alleged overstatement of pupil numbers by 94 in 2015.

The former school principal, who stepped down in 2015, was issued with an alibi warning by judge Seamus Hughes.

This means Ms O’Gorman must provide the State within 14 days details of an alibi she intends to rely on in her defence.

Sgt Tom Quinn gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution.

After Sgt Quinn had outlined the facts, the judge asked why there had been no inspections carried out at the school.

Sgt Quinn replied there had not been an inspection at St Mary’s National School for years.

Defence solicitor Frank Gearty said it was imperative to state that there was no personal gain obtained from the charges before the court.

Ms O’Gorman was granted bail and returned for trial to the next sitting of Longford Circuit Court on May 31st, 2018.