Tobago parents protest
BY TOBAGO BUREAU Tuesday, October 2 2012
click on pic to zoom in
LET'S TALK: Tobago House of Assembly Secretary for Education Whitney Alfred (in shirt and tie) beckons protestors to a meeting over the absence of a p...
A PROTEST was staged yesterday morning outside the offices of the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport by parents whose children attend the Signal Hill Government Primary School. The parents later held an impromptu meeting with Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Secretary for Education, Sport and Youth Affairs Whitney Alfred and his administrator Jennifer Lezama.
The parents and members of the school’s Parent/Teachers’ Association (PTA) want the former principal, Dr Verleen Bobb-Lewis to return to her duties at the school as they claimed she had no proper authorisation to be away from school.
PTA president Anslem Richards, whose two sons are students at the school, said the education of all of the students are at risk because there currently is no senior teacher at the school, meaning there is no person in charge.
Richards said that Bobb has been away from the school for about five years with three of those years being properly documented and reasons for the absence substantiated. However, he said there has been no reason or justification for the other two years.
Bobb is currently the co-ordinator of the schools curriculum development with the DEYAS. After Bobb left the school, Charmion Phillips-George took over as acting principal. However, she was recently appointed principal to the Bethesda Primary School.
Richards said that Bobb is still the substantive principal of the Signal Hill Government Primary School as she has never resigned. As such, there is no vacancy of principal at this school which means no senior teacher can apply for the position.
“Consequently, no one can be appointed school principal and in the mean time we are left with a school without any principal.”
He said that for the past three weeks, since the start of the school term, the PTA has been trying to have the issue addressed by the THA’s Division of Education, but without any success. Based on this, a decision was taken at the last meeting of the PTA, on September 20, to stage a protest to highlight the parents’ dissatisfaction.
After the meeting, the PTA head revealed that a decision was made by the Division of Education for Bobb to return to the school and take up her duties as principal until and when the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) appoints a senior teacher to act as principal.
The PTA was also informed of the process through which the Division has taken to appoint a senior teacher. Alfred told Newsday that today is the deadline for applications to the post of senior teacher and responses are to be sent to the TSC for it to make the appointment, within this month.
Richards said he was satisfied with the outcome of yesterday’s meeting which came after the protest. He said the decision to have Bobb return to the school will serve to bring back management stability and peace of mind to parents, students and teachers alike.
He thanks Alfred for his timely decisions yesterday.
For his part, Alfred told the PTA members to remain vigilant with respect to what is taking place at the Signal Hill Primary School and encourage their children to do well in their studies. He praised the teachers for being in touch with the issues at the school and told them to continue playing their role as the Division alone, cannot have all the answers or manage the affairs of Tobago’s teaching sector.