THE Department for Education (DfE) is planning to introduce new
powers to bar unsuitable people from running independent schools, a
spokesman said this week. The statement came after the department
confirmed that it was urgently investigating claims that the
chairman of governors at the privately run Birmingham Muslim
School, Ghoma Abdrabba, had been accused by the United
States Treasury of misusing charitable funds.
Mr Abdrabba founded the school in 2001, but has
since transferred ownership to the Albayan Educational Foundation
Ltd. The charity has four trustees, who include Mr
Abdrabba, and his wife, Aisha, who remains the head
teacher. OFSTED inspectors, who had earlier deemed the school
inadequate, upgraded it to adequate last year, but commented on
frequent absences and persistent lateness among its 90 pupils. All
pupils learn Arabic, and follow an Islamic studies programme.
The Sunday Times reported an allegation from
the US Treasury that Mr Abdrabba used a charity
organisation to "transfer documents and funds for terrorist
activities overseas". In 2006, Libyan-born Mr
Abdrabba, a British national, was put on the US's
"specially designated nationals" list for allegedly funding the
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
The same year, his name was added to a UN Security Council list
of individuals suspected of being involved in terrorism, but was
removed in 2011 after he was cleared of wrongdoing.
The DfE statement said: "We are looking at this information
urgently. It is vital that we ensure that unsuitable people are not
managing independent schools. We are introducing new powers to
ensure that people whose past conduct demonstrated that they are
not suitable to run an independent school can be barred."