Wednesday , July 6 2022

Open Letter to Commissioner asking for progress report on SCS

We have been asked to publish the following open letter to Commissioner Johnson:

Dear Commissioner Johnson,

On October 9th, 2014 I wrote an article on Saba News, stating that the SCS was in big problems.

The facts that I mentioned were based on evidence and no gossip.

Now more than 6 weeks later I like to evaluate what has happened and where we are now based on facts again..

  1. As far as I am aware, nothing has been done about the non-qualified teachers. Can you explain us what the plans are to get these teachers qualified?
  2. Early at the beginning of the school year, the academic Dutch teacher reported sick and left for Aruba. After a serious of weeks where children were kept busy with movies shown by Mr. Hermans (no degree in teaching Dutch Academic) and the substitute teacher Spanish (not qualified to teach Dutch Academic) finally the support of Mr. Franklin Wilson was called in to help out. Can you explain us what will be happening after the Christmas Break with the exams Dutch coming up? Is it true that the old Dutch teacher, who is presently in Aruba on sick leave, will be coming back as a mentor to support the Dutch department? Why not appoint a fully qualified teacher who is able to teach the Cambridge Curriculum? This curriculum is anyway on a lower level than the CXC Spanish so that must be not to difficult.
  3. The unqualified care coordinator got an assistant to teach the guidance lessons. Can you explain us what the care coordinator is doing in school besides teaching two hours per week and be the rest of the week ambulant? I also was informed that she will be travelling to The Netherlands three weeks before the school closes for Christmas break to get a training in care and guidance, paid by OCW. If a qualified person was recruited at the beginning of the school year, we would not face this problem and students would have benefited from the beginning of the school year. It feels like doing the impossible to keep the ship sailing.
  4. The director changed the academic curriculum for Form 5 without permission of CXC by adding an extra subject to the list, Principles of Accounts. Have you checked with CXC if this is allowed and if our students can sit that exam in May next year?
  5. Mr. Hermans gave a terrible interview where he accused the “old teachers of being lazy and not willing to accept training. If they get training they all leave.” Mr. Commissioner please reprimand this man for writing such an untrue and negative attack on the previous staff members and let him withdraw this article as promised in order to respect those “old teachers”.
  6. Last week, my child was supposed to start with test/exam week. In the booklet to parents is clearly stated that in term 1 and 3 students will sit tests/exams which will be part of the report card grade. If it was not for the deputy director, no schedule was in place. Due to the fact that the director only allowed one week for testing, students had more than 2 exams on one day. Totally against the school regulations as stipulated in the handbook. And you know who paid the price for this misconduct. Correct the students and teachers.
  7. I also was informed that two teachers will leave Friday November 28th to meet with teaching staff in Statia to discuss the CXC subject English and Cambridge Dutch. Sorry to say but the English Teacher has no CXC experience and the language of instruction at the GVP in Statis is currently Dutch HAVO. Both teachers will have exactly one afternoon to sit with Statia teachers to go over what ever they want to discuss and return on Sunday. This is not a business trip paid fully by the school but a weekend trip to sightseeing Statia, as one teachers explains the trip, while the other will meet up with her husband who is doing research there. In my opinion misuse of school finances which could have been spent more efficient if the correct persons where sent over to Statia. Do you know that this decision made by the director is illegal and can have serious consequences when an audit will take place?
  8. I was also informed that the director had spoken to the form 5 students about the fact that SBA’s and CXC has not his attention. Passing the Dutch Cambridge exam is enough. He had further stated that if they would fail the exams, that would be an extra income for the school. Is this the attitude we expect from a director? He should be ashamed and be fired immediately.
  9. I understand that the director is travelling to Bonaire for meetings, therefore miss out completely on the SLO workshop this week which was planned months ago. Has the director planned this deliberately to avoid confrontation on subject matter that is not familiar with him?

You see commissioner; the school has not been able to solve serious matters. On the contrary, the situation is worsening by the day. Dutch national teachers are awarded with pleasure trips and expended holiday trips while non-Dutch teachers are running the school and try their utmost prepare the students for exams. Please don’t see this as negative criticism but as stating facts where the director is totally responsible for.

How much more time do you need Commissioner and VO Raad to make a decision on which actions need to be taken to bring this school back in shape? How much longer do you allow our students to be the victim of this all?

I hope that based on transparency, a full explanation to us parents, students and teachers will be given within short.

Saba Guru

Evaluation Committee explains their mission
Child Support vs Tax Credit being discussed with Executive Council

13 comments

  1. We never got a week notice for exams as it says in the handbook. We got our exam schedule on the Friday and our exams started on Monday. Some students had to sit more than two a day which also not allowed. I think this is not fair as these exams decided if we we can writes our CXC’s.
    (Shortened by Editor. Please check House Rules for contributions)

  2. Another concerned parent

    Honestly speaking, we have been seen this development now from August 18th up until now. So far the director has had a free ride on what Mr. Hemmie and his previous team had developed.
    There are no new developments taking place in school. We don’t hear about progress made in the curriculum, we don’t hear about progress made in team work in school, we don’t hear about the positive signals coming from the school. All we hear about is about a career fare, well done and compliments to those who organized it, and students who dislike going to school.
    Mine wants to drop out because he says he does not like school, the director and the new teachers. He does not understand them and above all, he feels that he is discriminated because he is from a different island. Now tell me, what I am I going to say to him if I read all this about the school?
    I am so sad that this had to happen because the school was doing well last year but the whole system was shaken up and look where we are now. Who is going to clean this mess and who will eventually be responsible for all of this? Some one needs to pay the price for this disaster.

    Elections coming up!!!!
    (Shortened by Editor)

  3. This is a disgrace and I hopes the commissioner sees its so. This school year so far has been nothing but confusion and our children have to pay the price. Now I hears that some Dutch teachers are going on questionable trips. Who is watching the spending at the school This never happen when Mr. Hemmie was the man in charge. My tax money better not be funding any trips for teachers to meet they husbands in Statia.
    (Shortened by Editor. Please check our House Rules for contributions)

  4. Having read all the points in the article and having connections, like many people on the island, with someone who works at SCS, I have also heard most if not all these grievances from individuals directly involved and in the know. I feel that after all the events that have taken place over the past several months; specifically those that have transpired over the past month, that an investigative body should be called in to address these issues. The schools funds are provided by tax payers dollars and therefore must be accounted for. If there is even a question is regards to misappropriation of funds, then we as tax payers have the right to demand an audit of said spend. It is about accountability and transparency, which I feel, and also hear, are severely lacking at the school under the current administration.

  5. Can I give my comment on the article “progress report @ SCS and big problems @ SCS?
    the problem that I see from reading the post from sabagur and previous post from sabaguru is if you have eyes to see and reasoning to reason it clearly show based on sabaguru’s article is that sabaguru knows alot of scs information. mind you this i say based only on what sabaguru writes. all i can say is commissioner of education, Voraad, Director A Hermans, taskforce or whomever be careful that there is not a leakage @ scs. again i only say this because based on the information of sabaguru it seems like it comes from within.
    hopefully mr editor you will edit my piece cause sometimes for reason unknown to me you don’t edit certain issues i touch on. happy thanksgiving.

    Note Editor: Contributions are checked against our “House Rules for contributions”. Please use the link at the bottom of each page.

  6. This information all public as I as a parent knows about all this already from my kids and community. If it a leak then it a whole community leak. The school is a public school and we have a right to know and are informed of such things.

  7. Dear worried,

    It is exactly how Saffy describes it. You don’t have to have a PHD or DRS to understand what is happening. The school provides public info on their website and via letters sent home to parents. Students bring information home and others talk to friends and relatives. You only need common sense and a little bit of understanding to know what is happening at the SCS. It is not rocket science to see how the management is trying to divide the team in two parts (Dutch and non-Dutch) in order to create his support for him to stay on as director.
    It is my intention to inform the public about facts which should be actually done by the school because I strongly believe that we all should know how our children, in a tax-payers school, should progress and develop. Any mismanagement should be reported and investigated. Not only in schools but in any government department.
    So talking about leaks,… to much to mention.

  8. Where are the teachers in all this? What do they have to say? Are they even allowed to comment or are they muzzled by dubious confidentiality agreements? From what I have heard on the street and read on this site over the past few months, the situation at the Saba Comprehensive School appears to have gone from bad to worse. Clearly, if things are as awful as they seem, then the decision makers here on the island and in the Netherlands need to act and change things immediately. This is a publicly funded school, paid for with tax money. If the constituants on the island are not happy, then they have to act!

    The decision makers have thusfar far ignored the issues. The previous Director and a large percentage of the teaching staff were let go under dubious circumstances, however, they ignored the fact that the public demanded that the Director and staff be reinstated. They ignored the fact that certain new hired staff members at SCS now are totally unqualified for their positions. They ignored the fact that many of the new teachers, through no fault of their own, did not have the neccessary paperwork for the island, and have had to miss additional weeks of school (by my calculations, tabulating approx. a month each) They ignored the fact that the new Director has spoken out rather maliciously about the existing staff in both the Caribbean and Netherlands press; an action, I may say, is unheard of for any team player, let alone the new Director of a school.

    The question is, will these decision makers continue to ignore these facts presented above by Saba Guru, as they sound VERY serious and ‘the guru’ sounds not only quite informative, but also confident in the ‘facts’ that they present. I for one, would like to give the teachers, who have been here previous to this term, some advice: Speak Up!

    You owe it to yourselves, you owe it to the students and you owe it to the foundations of education, which you all have worked and continue to work so hard for. If all that has been mentioned is true, then you MUST IN GOOD CONSCIENCE let the public know. If the school has fallen into the hands of a corrupt administration, and this administration is favouring one set of teachers based on their nationality, please report it! You have the power to change all this if you are unsatisfied with the current situation.

    Speak up, and as a group vote NON CONFIDENCE in the new administration. If no action is taken by the Commissioner of Education, then we will vote NON CONFIDENCE in him next year. That’s democracy folks!

  9. Mr. Terry Cunningham

    Dear Forcethehand:
    As one of the former teachers whose contract was not renewed for ‘dubious’ reasons I want to let you know that there are several problems with current teachers speaking up.
    1. I suggest you go ask the Form 5 students of this year’s class about speaking out and how they feel betrayed by the so called ‘democratic’ system. As Form 4 students they were one of the first groups to rally behind the teachers and director and led a petition drive and a protest to demand action against the ‘Board’s’ decisions. Not only did their efforts fall on deaf ears one student was threatened and so was that student’s parents and their business.

    2. The teachers spoke out and begged the SCS School Board to reconsider their decisions. This fell on deaf ears as well and the teachers who were outspoken but stayed on were labeled as troublemakers for the new Director.

    3. OCW and the Inspectorate were called in and even they did not want to get involved and chose the ‘Wait and See’ route and look what it has produced.

    4. The contract that the teachers are ‘forced’ to sign is one of the biggest reasons for silence from the staff. Let me clarify something….when I say ‘Forced’ to sign I will tell you that in the past several years the so called ‘contract’ for teachers is never presented to potential teachers until after they show up on island and begin teaching (usually 2 to 3 weeks after school starts). When I took the job we were told ‘Take it or Leave IT’ when we asked about certain provisions in the contract and told that the contract stands ‘as is’. Now I ask you…..what business makes a contract with another person or business and does not ‘negotiate’ and allow ample time for review of the contract and provide protection for both parties. In the case of the teacher’s contracts they have a clause which locks in their silence and teachers who are not of permanent status always live in the cloud of not being ‘renewed.’

    5. Teachers that are permanent also fear the dreaded ‘Retribution’ that they are almost guaranteed to receive if they speak out. Remember, they are also bound by that same so-called ‘contract’ that helps to create this hostile work environment by not giving them any rights.

    6. The public has to realize that all these teachers work for a ‘Foundation’ they do not have the same protection from the ‘Labor Board’ that is afforded to ‘civil servants’. Even though SCS is a publicly funded organization it is just another Foundation bound by its outdated Deed of Founding and governed by a board. By the way, the board is still intact because the foundation and the school cannot exist without a board. This board may not be making decisions but they are still the ones who are on the books and are still signing the checks. If someone is still signing the checks they are still fiscally responsible for the new Director’s spending. There is no ‘Get out of jail free card’ just because you are not calling the shots.

    7. Last but not least…..The “Voice in the Wilderness” for SCS and its students and parents has been Ms. Christalle Klaber and the organization that she is trying to get off the ground now called S.E.A. (Saba Educational Alliance). Her hard work to bring attention to the plight began almost 6 months ago and she has worked tirelessly with others in the community to bring about awareness to the issues at hand. It is now time for like-minded parents to step up to the plate and GET INVOLVED! If indeed others are hearing the same things from your children when they come home from school then step up to the plate. They are your children and they are Saba’s future. What lessons in ‘Democracy’ can you teach them if you remain silent and also fear ‘retribution’ for speaking out? Again, if you are not involved in your children’s education then you become part of the problem and not the solution.

    8. Contact Ms. Klaber and help S.E.A. get off the ground so that parents and supporters of Saba’s educational process can have a voice so that this will not happen again.

  10. Wow that all I gots to say. This situation a lot worse than any of us knows. I went to the school just now to pick up report cards and a few of my childs teachers was off island including their home room teachers. The Director not there also. Should he not be around to meet parents during the first report card meeting or he not want to face us and answer some questions about the direction of the school and our kids education. I read his comments and they dont match what the homeroom teachers was saying. Just a “well done” what kind of comment is that from the Director of the school. The Care teacher don’t have no grade either with a silly comment “I believe in you”. I want to knows what my childs can do to improve and these people clearly don’t have a clue about my child. Geez man this just make me lose hope in that school.

  11. Another concerned parent

    The week is over and time to reflect and look back on what happened this week.
    We had exam/test week where on Tuesday results had to be presented to all staff in order to come to a consensus and for the home room teachers to complete the report cards for the first term for this academic year. WHO IS MISSING TODAY? As we all expected; the director, the care coordinator and two subject teachers, all valuable to give constructive feedbackon how our children are progressing. Excuses where made that the director was in meeting in Bonaire (he just could not get a flight back time to be on Saba) two teachers were in workshops in Statia (one driving around in the Jeep while the other in the hotel …)
    The care coordinator could not be reached since she had already left the island for important meetings in the Netherlands.

    I tell you, this is the first report card meeting this academic school year. I strongly feel what on earth am I doing in this school, rather than picking up a report card who has contradictory statements from Director/Care coordinator/Mentor/Teacher.
    What do I have to believe anymore? How is my child progressing, who is giving him support, does he need any support? Where can I get an answer in this school to my questions towards the development of my child?

    I feel drained, worn out and absolutely used like a little girl who is coming for something but don’t you dare asking any questions. The movie from Pin Floyd is playing thrue my head all the time.

    Dear commissioner, where else can we go to improve the education of our children? In school they all are on business travel or other important off island meetings. Where is the good old “walk in” policy when Mr. Hemmie was there and Sharon and Charlena could assist you?

    I feel like an alien coming to SCS. If this is what you want, good luck. I am just depressed, dissatisfied and completely flabbergasted how this school is able to function. I feel pain, stress and most of all an unsafe learning environment for our students.

    Chris, keep it up, you only have 80 students to loose, on Saba that is a whole generation.

  12. Well still no answer from the commissioner hmmmmm I guess in Saba people that need to make important decisions which they paid for rather waste everyones time and stick they head in the sand. Again look like nothing will be done unless the Dutch do it. Us Sabans must look like fools.

  13. Well what can I say! You wanted the school board gone so they are gone and I guess there is no one to pull in the reigns cause all they can do now is be used to sign checks. Jus a few things that are on my mind as a parent who is normally not vocal.

    1. For the past years that my children have gone to SCS, I personally have taken my time to go to the school to receive report cards. Now I think it just ridiculous the accusations above about the teachers being off island due to work related meetings. And I stress “WORK RELATED”!! during the reign of the former director teachers were normally on island and not even attending work related meetings, yet not present for parents to speak to them during report time. I have encountered this every single time that I have collected report cards, where I want to speak to a specific subject teacher however they are not there! Why??? Oh simply because they do not need to be there because they don’t have a home room. Yet mind u I do believe they get paid for a 8 hr day. And interesting how all of a sudden the Don Guru and parents have turned on a certain teacher who is in Statia to “meet her husband.” What’s wrong has she gone over to the other side so she is now public enemy number one?! She is no longer actively advocating for you so you throw her under the bus!? tsk tsk

    2. You all talk about parents speaking up however I remember last year when a certain parent spoke up in concern for her child she was bashed and accused of all sorts of ludicrous things but I guess u just want parents to speak up about what you want. I remember parents speaking up about at least three of the teachers that left yet you want them reinstated! But oh yes I guess that was not publicized now was it. Let me see, if I recall the street talk correctly, one complaint was about a teacher physically and verbally attacking students, another was about another teacher not doing her job and the possibility of the business community pulling out of the job training programs and last but not least a group of parents constantly complaining about what was happening at the school because a whole class was failing and what was the school doing about it!! Now as I see it, the past board, whether we like them or not, had a decision to make. Non renewal of contracts and parents hit the roof, which is what happened!! Or renew the contracts, screw the failing children, who cares about them anyways, screw the businesses who needs them and hell bring back corporal punishment in school. Maybe that’s what these unruly and disobedient students need. I ask you is this what you wanted? The way I see it by the non renewal of certain teachers the board acted in the benefit of the children. They had no loss or gain by renewing or not renewing contracts. And the political gain I keep hearing about, please enlighten me because I must have suddenly turned blonde!! Had they kept these teachers on you would now be bashing them because your children failed, your children were abused by the teacher or no longer had a job training program. In my opinion all this fuss over the children really is not over the children at all. You don’t really care about the children, this whole fuss was concerning getting rid of the board and reinstating the former principle. Well hooray the board is gone, one down, one to go!

    3. As for unqualified teachers, during the former principals term there was also unqualified teachers. Teachers that have told me themselves that they have had to come up to the standards which the Dutch requires. So why all of a sudden such a fuss about this. This unqualified teacher replaced someone who took students that were at A/B levels and brought them down to C/D levels by time of Exams. Why not complain about that??? Ooops…but no, wait , that is not in your benefit now is it?

    4. During a meeting held at the school for us the parents with the board, OCW and Commissioner, it was publicly stated and asked of all of us to step forward or appoint at least two new members for the board. To date that has not been done. Had you all wanted change, you would have stepped up to the plate and made a change. But no, change is not what you want, it seems by your actions all you are looking for is trouble. Regardless of the negative effect you have on the school, the teachers who are trying their hardest to move on and most of all the constant negative effect you have on the children. My questions were answered in that meeting and by the continued actions of certain parents it answered a lot more questions concerning the talks of parents and former teachers having personal agendas against the former board and it definitely confirms beyond a reasonable doubt the statements made by certain parents and former staff that they would make the new teacher/director’s life a living hell. If you want change try and be the change and try and come forth with solutions rather than laying blame and pointing fingers because a lot of fingers can be pointed over the past two years.

    5. As for an inspection, how much more do u want or expect? OCW came in and went over the decisions of the board, the voogdijraad did the same and so did the inspection. The next option maybe His Majesty?? Come on ppl, if nothing was deemed wrong by three bodies up till now, do you think it will by having another inspection. As far as talks go the former board was guilty of lack of communication! The only person who was not in agreement with the board was Commissioner Johnson and in my opinion that was because of politics but he had no choice to go along with decisions because there was nothing illegal or wrong with them. And now you are all killing him! Smh

    6. As for the principle being on vacation, the same way you received the information concerning the teachers going to Statia and what they are doing and the principle going to Bonaire, why did u not report the context of his meetings in Bonaire. As I hear it he has gone to meet about all the reports and policies that should have been made during the last two years but ooops I guess our brilliant and perfect former principal did not get a chance to do them seeing he was too busy making every one happy!! So guess what it looks like our newly hated principal needs to pick up the slack and the work that needed to be completed in three years now has to be completed by him in one!! And then you wonder why he is so serious? Really???

    7. As for the report that the principal made, that article was so poorly written that I cannot even give it merit!

    8. From all I have heard, the school has become more serious and people are being held accountable for their job. They are now expected to come to work on time, or miss out on hearing new announcements, they now have to do additional tasks in there classrooms, which, yes, I hear they are required! From all appearances the new principle has made things a little more strict and less relaxed than the former principal. God forbid you have to work on little Saba where anything goes! Reality check! For those of you who take advantage, if you were in your own country you damn well know you could not get away with half you do here on Saba.

    Finally I would just like to say, there are always two sides to a story and we all know that too well from living on such a small island. From experience and if I have to be honest with myself, the TRUTH generally lies in between. The school has been turned into a battle ground because ppl have a point to make. This is an unhealthy environment for the children that are studying. This creates a harsh environment for our teachers to teach. In the end the children will lose, not because of the current teachers and principal but because of you. Because of the negativity and hostility you as concerned parents are instilling in the school. In the end you have only yourself to blame. Not the Commissioner, not the former board, not the new principle and teachers. YOU, YOURSELF! Some of us parents as well as teachers have moved on. And please, tell me not that teachers have not moved on because more than you picked up report cards. The parents and citizens with common sense will see between the lines and they will see what is right from wrong. I myself have brought my children through this by positive reinforcement. Forget not that it is not only your kids who come home complaining about the school but it is also other children, like mine, coming home and wondering when this will be over, when will parents stop, why cant things be normal again. Not only have your kids spoken up but others have as well, they want to study, they want to move on but by constantly attacking the school YOU are constantly demotivating and harming the children. Turn it around, if you want to fight, fight positively. The constant negative bashing and blaming in the local news is a constant strain and harm to all at SCS, most importantly the kids. This is not what you should be teaching your kids!

    These are my thoughts and I thank Saba News for publishing them. I will not responds to any comments made simply because I don’t condone this and I have already gone against my better judgement by writing this but enough is enough. Remember ALL of our children have rights, not just yours!