Principal 'embezzled' school's wood

ROI ET — A group of high school pupils has accused their school’s director of fraudulently selling valuable wood from phayung and yang na trees that were growing on the campus grounds.

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More than 30 pupils from Srithawat Witthayalai School in tambon Niwet of Thawatchaburi district converged on the Roi Et provincial hall late Thursday morning and submitted a letter of complaint asking the provincial governor to investigate Teerawut Boonchusri’s alleged misconduct.

The letter was received by deputy provincial governor Plakorn Boonprakong. 

According to the pupils, two “phayung” trees (Siamese rosewood) behind a dormitory were recent felled by a storm. A group of men then turned up to cut up the valuable trees, each of which was about 10 metres high. It took two people holding hands to encircle the trunks.      

The men told a teacher they had bought the trees from Mr Teerawut. The teacher then called and asked Mr Teerawut about the sale of the two phayung trees, and was told that the fallen trees made the school grounds look untidy and should be sold.

However, Mr Teerawut never told the pupils and teachers how much the trees were sold for, and what he did with the money.   

The pupils also accused Mr Teerawut of ordering the felling and processing of two yang na trees (Dipterocarpus alatus) at the school. They said many pieces of the processed yang na were stored next to a janitor’s house, but much had gone missing and continued to disappear.

After receiving the letter, Mr Plakorn led a team of police, soldiers and local officials to the school. They found three phayung tree stumps and a phayung tree lying on the ground, and two felled yang na. 

The team was told by the school’s executives that Mr Teerawut was now in Laos on government business and they knew nothing about the felling or selling of the trees.

Mr Plakorn said he would summon the school’s director to clarify the allegation and set up a committee to investigate him.

The law allows landlords to cut down any trees on their land except teak and rubber trees, for which they must seek permission from authorities.  

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