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Mar 28, 2014

St. Ignatius teachers revolt against decisions of high school management

In the west, there is growing dissention tonight among the faculty and staff of St. Ignatius High School in Santa Elena Town, following a series of unsanctioned decisions reportedly being taken by the principal to transfer administrative personnel from their respective posts.  A number of teachers, including vice Principal Diana Askari, are up in arms over the reshuffle, a move, they say, that can only be authorized by the Teaching Services Commission.  News Five spoke off record with Vanessa Neal, principal of St. Ignatius High School.  She maintains that there is nothing untoward taking place under her leadership.  The matter, however, came to a head this morning when former General Secretary George Frazer, of the Belize National Teachers Union, attempted to convene a meeting with the school’s management on the heels of a sit-down with disgruntled employees on Thursday.  According to Frazer, the matter is not being handled professionally.

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George Frazer, Former General Secretary, B.N.T.U.

“We have received complaints over the last week or two and I understand some of these issues have been going on for quite a while where teachers are complaining about a whole series of things.  One, we understand that the chairman of the board Father Leo Palma issued a memo to the teachers that they should not and he will not allow them to attend B.N.T.U. meetings and activities.  Now that is a no-no.  That is clearly contrary to their constitutional and human rights, our labor laws and everything.  And teachers and other members of staff, like secretaries and others, yesterday a good amount of teachers met with me to share some of their concerns.  For example, the vice principal who has a defined job description, some of these were being changed overnight at the whims and behest, apparently, of the board or the way some of them are saying it, they believe it’s just the decision of the chairman Father Palma and the principal Ms. Vanessa Neal.  So people’s job descriptions are being changed and we have rules, Education Act.  We have the Education Rules, we have a Teaching Service Commission.  People are being [moved around], their status are being changed, you hear of all kinds of abuses, the way they are being appraised, gross disrespect.  They are even complaining how some of them, even on non-school days they are being sent texts, they are given memos by the principal, scolding and disrespecting and ordering many things that are illegal, contrary to the Education Act and Rules, contrary to their authority.”

 

Isani Cayetano

George Frazer

“Mr. Frazer, according to the principal of the high school, a lot of what is taking place is the result of reform and restructuring.  Do you agree?”

 

George Frazer

“How can you have reform and restructuring when it is clear from reports and indications even from the teachers that many of these things were never discussed with them.  Reform includes involvement and on that, one of the things the high schools they should have school boards of twelve, thirteen or up to fifteen people; four or five of those members should be appointed with the principal consulting with the staff.  For example, a representative from the business sector, a representative from the community at large and the teachers claim they were never consulted.  Some who have been staff reps and others have resigned because of the disrespect, the threats and abuse that have been  sent to them.”

 

News Five understands that a meeting is scheduled for Monday to resolve the matter.

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