Prominent SWSF school ripped-off by its own bursar

Here’s a tragic tale of a Steiner school bursar, one David Drage, getting into debt, ripping off the school  to the tune of some 150,000 quid and committing suicide rather than face up to the consequences.

First reports of events at the school, Michael Hall in Forest Row, East Sussex,  appeared in newspapers in summer of 2006. The amount of the fraud then was thought to have been about 28,000 quid, a line repeated in the Christmas edition of the school’s newsletter. The eventual scale of the fraud as given in the school’s 2006 Annual Report & Accounts was found to be 150,000 GBP.

Richard Zienko, the school’s Resources Manager and a trustee of the school, was the bursar’s superior. Zienko was suspended from his position more or less immediately after the fraud was discovered in June 2006.  He resigned as Resources Manager and as a trustee in October of the same year. Zienko’s suspension came about as a result of advice received by the school, advice given to ensure an impartial investigation into the school’s accounts could take place. He is currently a director/trustee of the Eurythmy Theatre Ltd (update Feb 2019: now named Peredur Eurythmy Ltd), a charity operating as the Moving Word Theatre and prior to the fraud at the school had been a director of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) and of the Anthroposophical Association Ltd, the workhorse of the national Anthroposophical Society here in UK.

Michael Hall School was one of the first Steiner schools to open in England back in 1925 and it is today a premier SWSF school with some 500 pupils and an annual income of about 3 million GBP per year.