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SITA CLEARED

By Lara Pickford-Gordon Tuesday, December 13 2011

click on pic to zoom in

The Teaching Service Commission (TSC) has cleared principal of the Tunapuna Hindu Primary School Sita Gajadharsingh-Nanga of allegations made by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) regarding her conduct.

The TSC found there was insufficient evidence against the principal and directed the Education Ministry to investigate the conduct of a teacher of the school and school supervisors.

The TSC met last Wednesday and considered a report from an investigation done by the ministry.

Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh yesterday said the TSC considered the contents of the report and sought legal advice.

Gopeesingh said the TSC concluded that there was “insufficient evidence to substantiate allegations made against Mrs Gajadharsingh-Nanga.”

However, the TSC has found there was sufficient grounds for the ministry to investigate “one of the teachers at the school.”

Gopeesingh did not disclose what was the allegation against the teacher.

He said the TSC has concerns about issues at the school which should have been addressed by school supervisors.

The TSC has directed the ministry to investigate whether the school supervisors were negligent in their duty and failed to address the issue of the allocation of resources from the ministry to the school and did not have proper oversight of the school.

Gopeesingh said he has given instructions for an investigating team to be established to urgently deal with matters related to the supervisors and a particular teacher identified by the TSC in its report.

Gajadharsingh-Nanga has spent most of the school term away from duty due to the rift with the SDMS and schools’ Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA).

She returned to work last Tuesday, just over two weeks after the Ministry of Education mediated an agreement between her and the SDMS on November 21.

On the issue of the transfer of Gajadharsingh-Nanga, the TSC advised that interviews would take place for principal I for primary schools, which were advertised, and Gajadharsingh Nanga would be invited to be interviewed. Gopeesingh said the ministry was “hamstrung” as it had to wait on the TSC to do interviews. Contacted for comment Gajadharsingh-Nanga said she had not heard anything about the TSC’s report yet and no one has contacted her. She told Newsday that she could not comment further because the teaching service regulations did not allow her to.

SDMS Secretary General Satnarayan Maharaj had no comment to make until he saw the report.

Peter Wilson, general secretary of the TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) said he had no idea of what the report said but based on what he heard from Newsday, no action can be taken against the principal and it was up to the ministry to deal with the other matters highlighted.

Wilson said despite the agreement of November 21, Gajadharsingh-Nanga was still having problems at school. Private security guards hired by the SDMS, teaching staff and cleaners have refused to take directives from her.

The principal yesterday attempted to have a staff meeting but it did not happen. Wilson said the principal was responsible for the day-to-day management of the school and would be accountable for anything which happened. He said there seemed to be a deliberate attempt to subvert the agreement mediated by the Education Ministry between the principal and SDMS and the ministry was “aiding and abetting”. The school supervisors are supposed to ensure the principal was able to carry out her duties.

“Something as simple as keys. She can’t even have access to the area where office, equipment and stationary supplies are kept. It is as ridiculous as that,” said Wilson.

The atmosphere at the school has been tense for more than six months and there has been a strong lobby by the PTA and SDMS for the principal to be transferred.

The issues at the school became public when a letter written by Gajadharsingh-Nanga to the TSC requesting a transfer was publicised by a weekly newspaper in August.

In it she alleged that the SDMS Secretary General Satnarayan Maharaj threatened to lock her out of the school for admitting non-Indian children within the catchment area and not to admit black children. She said Maharaj was in an “uproar” because two of eight on-the-job trainees were non- Indian.”

Maharaj wrote the TSC August 10 and described Gajadharsingh-Nanga’s behaviour as disruptive and parents had expressed concern about confrontation.

The Director of Personnel Administration (DPA) wrote to the ministry on September 26 asking for the Permanent Secretary to ensure steps were taken to ensure the principal be allowed to carry out her duties.

Three weeks earlier the SDMS wrote to Gajadharsingh-Nanga telling her to report for duty at the St George East Education District. Maharaj wrote to the TSC on October 10 outlining the reasons the SDMS wanted the principal tranferred: Gajadharsingh-Nanga did not institute a programme for infants to learn prayers, she removed the dress code sign and attempted to frustrate efforts to complete a temple on the school compound, and failed to fulfill obligations to the board.

The DPA wrote the SDMS October 14 informing that unless Gajadharsingh-Nanga was transferred or otherwise directed by the TSC, the SDMS had no authority to debar her from reporting for work. Gajadharsingh-Nanga went to the school on October 24 accompanied by two school supervisors but they were not allowed entry. The police was called and fire service officers cut the locks on door. On November 9, excerpts from Gajadharsingh-Nanga’s letter were read by Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West Member of Parliament Patricia McIntosh during a sitting of the House of Representatives.

At a briefing on November 12, Maharaj provided data for the student population of the Tunapuna Hindu School which showed there were 22 children of African descent.

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