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Feb 27, 2015

OW Teachers Stage Sickout

Classes had to be called off today at La Inmaculada School in Orange Walk Town. Students got to school on time but teachers were nowhere to be found. Their sickout was prompted by the reversal of a decision taken by the School Principal to expel a student. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Padlocked gates and bolted down classrooms at La Inmaculada Primary School in Orange Town greeted its enrolment monotonously, as students arrived for classes at eight o’clock this morning to learn that their teachers were all absent.  Come to find out, the forty-three teachers and principals who make up the faculty and staff had called in sick earlier.  Their organized absence from work is the result of an existing conflict between the administration and management of the school, in the wake of an expulsion gone awry.

 

Otilio Muñoz

Otilio Muñoz, B.N.T.U. District President, Orange Walk

“I went to find out exactly what is the situation just to find out that the school was completely locked, the gates were completely locked and no teacher, no administration reported to work.  There are some problems, some concerns, and I would say serious concerns that I cannot really comment on it, but serious concerns that need to be addressed by management and since management did not address the situation on time, you know, the teachers [decided] that that’s the way they want to get attention because honestly when there is a concern, a serious concern, you need to address it on time.  And it’s to my understanding that management; the Catholic management will be meeting with the administration on Monday.”

 

That meeting between both parties will be held in the wake of the recent dismissal of a student.  Manuel Polanco, in his capacity as principal, expelled the child from school following an incident on campus.  According to a source employed at La Inmaculada, due process was not followed in the removal the pupil, prompting the local management to intervene.

 

Otilio Muñoz

“I don’t really want to get into it because of the nature of it and I don’t want to, I am not in a position to be revealing information which I am aware of it but I don’t want to give any, you know, maybe information that will be hampering the discussion that will be held on Monday.  It’s a student and it’s the nature of it, right, because it’s a minor.  You don’t want to be giving details into actually what the situation is.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“But can you confirm however that there was a move to have this child expelled from school as the reason why we’re currently at this point?”

 

Otilio Muñoz

“Well, yeah that is the reason, there is the expulsion aspect, the expulsion of a student and that is the only thing that I can say and we have to ensure that the measures were taken and that will have to be verified on Monday.”

 

What we understand is that the school’s administration is quite upset that the local management, led by Father Oliver Smalls, would step in to order the recall of the student, effectively overriding the decision of the principal.

 

Isani Cayetano

“Have you been given a reason why this child was being expelled?”

 

Otilio Muñoz

I am familiar, I know the reasons but I don’t want to comment on it because, as I said, I cannot.  I am not in a position to do that, that is why we have an administrator of the school who needs to, who is more aware and I believe that the procedures were taken.  All the necessary procedures were followed and down the line something went wrong and it needs to be addressed and I believe and I need to conclude by saying that one person can be wrong, two persons can be wrong, but when you have forty-three people saying something, you need to pay attention.  And that is my word to management.  You need to be serious about what you are doing.  When there is a problem with so much people, your workforce which are the teachers in this case, not presenting themselves to school it’s because they need your attention and immediate attention.”

 

News Five attempted to get a word with the Catholic management but the local manager deferred comment on the matter. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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