The shocking depths of disgraced fake school principal Neil Lennie’s fraudulence has been laid bare – with revelations he also masqueraded as a doctor and even tried to launch his own exclusive private school.
The now 72-year old narrowly avoided being jailed in March for a scam which started in 1976 – 44 years ago – when he scored his first teaching job by lying that he had a degree in teaching.
Lennie was in fact a serial university drop-out who had only finished year 12.
He was sentenced in the County Court of Victoria to a suspended jail term and community corrections order after pleading guilty to four counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception over the life-long scam.
It’s now been revealed Lennie was behind a bid to create a private K-12 school in Melbourne to be named ‘Imperial Grammar,’ the Herald Sun reports.
Last month, the now 72-year old narrowly avoided being jailed for a scam that dated back to 1976 when he scored his first teaching job off the back of a lie
Lennie was behind a bid to create a private K-12 school to be named ‘Imperial Grammar’
The government said the application for the school ‘did not proceed’.
Minutes from a 2019 planning meeting revealed how the scam artist, who called himself ‘Dr Neil Lennie’ despite having no PhD, planned to open ‘a top 20 school’ that would be ‘highly academic focused’ with ‘no religion classes or sporting classes’.
Lennie said the school – which he had planned on opening sometime this year – would require kids to sit admission exams.
An unearthed document stated the school would have ‘hopefully 4000 students, lots of services and facilities’ and would provide accommodation.
It’s also understood the intended student body would be made up mostly of local Chinese kids. Lennie even planned on ‘tapping into’ a sister school in China.
Victoria’s education and training regulator was privy to the proposal, but it’s unclear if it knew of Lennie’s involvement.
Fraud squad detectives arrested Lennie just two months after the planning meeting.
Using his dad’s teaching qualifications to score his first teaching job, Lennie enjoyed an illustrious career that saw him teach at Victoria’s Mount Scopus Memorial College, Haileybury College and Overnewton Anglican Community College.
He even spent six years as a headmaster at the prestigious Caulfield Grammar School for a period between the 1980s and 1990s.
Fraud squad detectives arrested Lennie just two months after the school planning meeting
Lennie eventually came undone in 2009 when The Victorian Institute of Teaching, which conducts annual audits of teacher and school records to ensure staff are qualified, exposed him as a fraud.
They had discovered discrepancies with Lennie’s records when he sought to renew his registration.
It was promptly cancelled that year.
In 2014, the institute charged him over another role as headmaster at a different school, again without qualification.
He was fined $8000 and the following year the institute referred him to police before criminal charges were laid in May 2020.
Busted, Lennie admitted his dodgy deeds had netted him $843,567 in wages up until 2000.
Though it was worryingly easy for Lennie to make his way to the top of the educational tree, authorities have assured the public such a brazen scheme could never happen today.
Back when Lennie first worked in schools all that was required was a teacher registration number.
Lennie also worked for a stint at Overnewton Anglican Community College (pictured)
Lennie would act as principal at Caulfield Grammar School for a period between the 1980s and 1990s
Mount Scopus had been duped by Lennie back in the 1970s when all one needed was a certificate to teach
Mount Scopus – Lennie’s first target – had not seen his tertiary qualifications and took him at his word that he was a registered teacher.
Despite the lie, Lennie won praise as actually being a very good teacher, or at least better than he was as a student, or a fraudster.
Former colleagues and students sang his praises in letters referred to the court during his prosecution.
Leading infectious diseases expert and inaugural Doherty Institute director, Professor Sharon Lewin AO, said Lennie had taught her physics and described him as one of the most outstanding teachers she’d ever had.
‘I often credit Mr Lennie with my enduring love of science, pursuit of academic excellence and self-belief in my own capabilities in science,’ she wrote in a letter to the court.
‘I remember him very clearly telling me that I was capable of doing anything in life and to shoot for the stars.
‘As a young woman in the 1970s, I now understand that this kind of encouragement for women in science was most unusual.’