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Mar 29, 2019

Bishop Martin Teachers Meet with B.N.T.U. and M.O.E. Reps

Today classes resumed at Bishop Martin High School as four of its affected teachers met with officials from the Belize National Teachers’ Union and Ministry of Education. The meeting was held at the neighboring ITVET building as the reps were disallowed to hold the meeting on the school’s campus.  As we reported on Wednesday, the teachers were instructed to leave the school compound because they are not legally employed at the school. The teachers say that they have been attempting to have their employment status regularized for years, but the administration and the Board failed to submit their documents. But as we found out today, there is an option that the board can take which would allow them to return to the classroom, while their documents are being processed by the Teaching Services Commission. Hipolito Novelo has the update.


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

As classes resumed at Bishop Martin High School, three of the four teachers who were told to leave the school compound for not being legally employed, met with representatives of the Belize National Teachers’ Union and the Ministry of Education today. B.N.T.U. President Senator Elena Smith says that Deborah Domingo, C.E.O. in the Ministry, was part of the meeting so that the teachers can understand the ministry’s position on this matter.


Elena Smith

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“It was explained to them that the process has started in terms of getting their employment straightened out. The Ministry has received the applications for additional teachers for the school. That has been approved. The approval has been granted for the school to hire additional teachers. The Board now has to make a determination when they would submit. They should now submit those applications for those additional teachers for them to be legally employed and so we await for them to make those submissions.”


The affected teachers namely Avid Briceño, Manuel Tzul, Emil Quetzal and Carmen Trejo say they have been waiting for years for the Board to do so. Trejo says that since the Principal, Luis Pook and the school’s Board failed to submit the documents they had to go public with their concerns. After the meeting, Trejo spoke to News Five.


Carmen Trejo

Carmen Trejo, Spokesperson for Affected Teachers

“This is affecting our families, our children the students at school and our staff members. Right now we are the sacrificial lambs because we have had have this problem for over a year and for other teachers four years and more. So the letter we got we felt is very unfair because we have been there illegally all this time and now a light suddenly pops up and they realize that now we are there illegally when we have been saying this for a long time.”


And the fear of the four teachers is that it will take longer for their employment status to be resolved. According to C.E.O. Domingo, an existing memorandum allows the school to hire teachers with a valid teacher’s license on an emergency basis. If the Board chooses to take this route, the affected teachers may return to work while their employment status is sorted out.


Deborah Domingo

Deborah Domingo, C.E.O., Ministry of Education

“That is offered to any management authority that may find themselves in a position that they need to quickly recruit teachers to fill vacancies. Sometimes teachers get sick suddenly, they may not allow going through the full recruit processes. So that allows that. One of the purposes of today’s meeting is to sensitize the Board at to that option.”


Carmen Trejo

“So it’s like I am applying for a job that I already had and that is very ironic and unfair.”


Hipolito Novelo

“What happens if that clause, the proposal to use that emergency clause is not accepted by the Board?”


Carmen Trejo

“Then we have to consider legal action after this. That is only other option.”


So who’s to blame for this mess at Bishop Martin High? Trejo is putting the blame squarely at the feet of Principal Pook.


Carmen Trejo

“We are being sanctioned when we are the ones who are being victimized but the Principal who is responsible for what happened is sitting on the campus of the school. So how does that make us look? Like we are causing this when we are the ones who are suffering the injustice.  In the same way that they don’t have to sanction the Principal for the mismanagement for our files and we are hoping that they do the right thing and bring him to task.”


Hipolito Novelo, News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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