Saturday , November 26 2022

Concerned residents to meet SEF board today, Monday, at 4:30pm

The Daily Herald writes that a group of about twenty concerned residents, parents and educators are looking forward to a long sought-after meeting with Saba Education Foundation (SEF) board members, purportedly scheduled at Sunny Valley Youth Centre in The Bottom today, Monday, at 4:30pm.

The group showed up to a Friday meeting scheduled with the board at Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) in St. John’s. However, that meeting was postponed until today at the request of the school board, so that representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) could attend.

The group led by Saba Parents Association (SPA) members Christalle Klaber, Helen Johnson, Pat Nation and Rudy Zagers, said they have been requesting a meeting to formally ask several questions about the board’s operations, as they relate to the recent decisions not to renew contracts for several teachers and the former SCS director. SPA said they have gathered a list of 20 to 30 questions, parents want presented to the board. “We had a letter that 42 parents signed to ask for a meeting,” Klaber said.

“When the children had protested, (the board – Ed.) wrote us a letter, saying that if we need anything or had any questions, we had to come directly to the management team. So we wrote a letter indicating we wanted a meeting directly with the school board. So why do they want OCW in now? OCW can’t answer these questions. These questions are specifically for the board.”

School board members were not available until press time to independently confirm that the meeting was rescheduled for today. SPA members said the communications have been conducted via email. An email from the school board was posted on several public bulletin boards, confirming the scheduling of the meeting for Friday, which never took place. While SPA members said they look forward to finally getting a chance to present their concerns directly to the board, they remain sceptical if today’s meeting will be any different from Friday’s. “You cannot come back at the last minute, saying: ‘We are not having the meeting.’

They also told us that they have a representative of OCW Monday. I said, “If he is here on the island, why can’t he come on Friday?” Klaber said. “We gave (the board – Ed.) a choice of the venue and the time for Wednesday. They said they could not make it for Wednesday, because a school board member was off island with other obligations, so they told us Friday. We confirmed back for Friday at 5:00pm. Everything was confirmed.”

SPA members added that one of their main concerns with the board is that parents and teachers are not currently represented on the board. All three board members, Raquel Granger, Tabitha Hassell and Maureen Hassell, are civil servants. “What I would like to hear from the board is not ‘to mind my business.’ This is my business, and I want to know from the board when they are going to meet with us as parents. We want a meeting between the board and the parents as soon as possible,” Nation said. “We do not have one parent or one teacher on this board. Why is that? Who put this board together?”

SPA is asking other concerned parents and citizens to come out and voice their concerns over the direction of the island’s school system. Today’s meeting is to be moderated by Tessa Alexander. OCW representative Nolly Oleana and Island Education Commissioner Chris Johnson will be attending as well, according to an email forwarded by Klaber from Saba Education Foundation Board.

“My daughter has been attending SCS for three years now. Never once have we had a board meeting with the parents,” Helen Johnson said. “Enough is enough.” Other members of the group expressed similar concerns about the board’s perceived way of operation. “I think the board hopes that we will be all tired out and that we will not come,” said Rudy Zagers. “Sometimes it is not what is done, but it is the way that they go about it. They were arrogant. They feel they do not have to answer to the public. They feel they have the power. They make the decisions and whatever they say will stand. A lot of parents and citizens feel the same way, but they are afraid to speak up for fear of retribution.”

2014-07-11

Photo: the group on Friday the 11th

Young Saban Athletes Travel to Philadelphia
Small turnout for health fair

5 comments

  1. Teacher Gone Home

    If you cannot be there at 4:30 then come when you can…. Show your support…a lot of parents are off island for vacation….but this is not just for parents….Come and hear just what the Board has to say for themselves.

    This meeting concerns the future of the most precious resource on SABA…. the education of its CHILDREN and its FUTURE!!!

  2. Well, there is a lot to say and to reveal.
    The school had excellent results and responsible for those results was the director and his team of teachers, not the board of the school.
    A school-board is not supposed to sit on the chair of a director in daily management-affairs.
    A school-board is supposed to follow the opinions of the management team, unless there is something seriously wrong and seen the results of the school that was not the case.
    A school-board is supposed to install a “medezeggenschapsraad”, an advisory committee from representatives of staff and parents, that has in several cases the authority to take decisions even if the board disagrees. Even the primary school on Saba has such a medezeggenschapsraad.
    The director proposed after weighing the two evaluation sessions that every teacher has to face in one year, that just one of the teachers should not have a second contract.
    Deviating from this judgement by not extending the contracts of 4 teachers instead of 1 is completely abnormal and more so when no arguments have been provided by the board.
    Dismissing the director because of the fact that he did not agree with not renewing the contracts of 3 teachers is the limit of showing incapabilities, the lack of capacities of the board members.
    Confronting teachers whose contracts will not be renewed with a letter without having a conversation to explain the decision on beforehand is completely unmannered.
    The fact that one of the members of the school-board came to a teacher and opposed to the fact that her daughter had not received an “A” but a “B” for her work, is not only laughable but is even a sign of being completely not competent or even not having enough integrity for being a member of a school-board.
    But apart from incidents like these, the critical remarks about the fact that the members of the school-board have no level of education and/or experience themselves in education are understandable.
    On the basis of which criteria have these board members been appointed?

    So far I remained quite silent about this whole matter, because in the beginning all information was hear-say, but now having heard the information directly from those who are involved, it is maybe useful to speak out.
    And I don’t speak just on the basis of what happened on Saba, but also based on an experience in management in the sector education that is incomparable to the experiences of almost anybody else on Saba.
    Quite some time ago I pleaded for an independent investigation in the whole matter. When that would have been done in time it might have been possible to take back some of the questionable decisions.
    As time goes on, this will become more difficult. But all of this is a serious matter and the inspection of the Ministry of Education has to interfere now.

  3. Friends of parents on SCS

    How do we take this to the next level to make sure people are heard? There has been a lot of commentary and I believe for every one voice we hear there are ten or twenty more who wish to speak out but are afraid to do it.

  4. concerned parent

    Today was another meeting plannend that did’t go through. Again because the board did not inform the parents about the place the meeting would take place: they changed it in the last minute.
    my concern is also: how to proceed and really get something changed in the benefit of education for our kids!
    It is really sad!

  5. Teacher Gone Home

    Well “Concerned Parent’ from my understanding the meeting did go on but only the ‘Parents’ were allowed into the meeting and Education Commissioner Chris Johnson backed up the Gang of Three with their decision. How can an organization that takes your TAX dollars as their only means of funding the school turn away the public and BTW even the PRESS???

    The school was always turning to the public to give to this and give to that and turning to us as Teachers to help the kids with their fundraisers. Well…..I guess you just told the public that they don’t matter anymore. Good luck Kids with getting local people and businesses without children to give to anything.

    I guess I have to go over to the Bullying Article and post there as well since it looks like Saba is no longer a democratic society but a PRIVATE one. Take and Take tax dollars but make your own rules and only be as transparent as you have to be in order to have the Netherlands fund your Private Organizations.