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Feb 18, 2011

Principal sends home student body when teachers protested firings

Prejudice and victimization are strong words coming from the teachers of Sadie Vernon High school in describing the current relationship with the school’s administration. By ten thirty this morning, the administration sent home the entire student body of over three hundred students while the teachers complained of two hard working co-workers who were fired, in their opinion, without due process. News Five Jose Sanchez was at the school before the classroom doors were shut.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Laura Baptist

The Principal of Sadie Vernon High School, Laura Baptist, is at the center of controversy as seventeen of twenty teachers have called the media to complain about problems that have festered for four years.  While Baptist walked the compound, the teachers gathered in the staff room.

German Tzul

German Tzul, Teacher, Sadie Vernon High School

“To express our concern over a series acts of consistent unprofessional, unethical even you can say immoral acts of prejudice, of victimization, of premature decision making that grossly violates the principles of natural justice. It is being so much that it has culminated to the point of two teachers being dismissed yesterday. Two good teachers, by the way, being dismissed yesterday and the reason underlying their dismissal is very, very questionable and many would say it goes to the extent of being illegal. [This is] amongst other concerns that we have.”

Sophia Gillett Trapp, Teacher, Sadie Vernon High School

Sophia Gillett Trapp

“What we’re against; we don’t have due process. We have a violation of our principles. And all I want the principal and the board to know is that we are not here to be enemies and to fight with anybody. We are here to sit down and work out things to let Sadie Vernon be a better school. We are tired of students thinking that they run Sadie Vernon, we are tired of students thinking only dah Sadie Vernon you can get away with things. Only at Sadie Vernon these things happen. A lot of them are concerned about the discipline problem.”

Jose Sanchez

“The teachers in question, who are they and what happened to them?”

Nicole Bembridge

Nicole Bembridge, Teacher, Sadie Vernon High School

“Well I don’t know if we can call names, but they had received letters yesterday of their termination effective immediately. So they were dismissed. One of them has already cleared off her desk, the other is planning to come in to clear off his desk later; however, none have met with the board.”

Jose Sanchez

“I do know to dismiss a teacher, there has to be due process—meeting with the board, you have to be able to fight your case.”

Nicole Bembridge

“And that never happened. That never happened.”

Jose Sanchez

“Is the board aware of this?”

Nicole Bembridge

“Well the board sent the letter. The board signed the letter. The chairlady of that board signed that letter.’

Jose Sanchez

“But the teachers weren’t given opportunity?”

Nicole Bembridge

“No, the teacher never met the board. One teacher met with a small ADHOC committee that said it would go to the board and then be followed up; that never happened either. And then all of a sudden out of the blue. And as we can say this can happen to any one of us.  All we are saying at least suppose it did happen. Suppose due process was followed? Can we argue about that? No! If all points were able to be proven that this happened that the reason why they were dismissed that was actually truth. Would we be able to fight it? No we wouldn’t.”

Darrell Humes

The principal refused to comment, however, the Parent Teacher Association president say’s the allegations are untrue.

Darrell Humes, President, Parent Teacher Association, Sadie Vernon

“That’s a lie. I can tell you that they were called up before the board.”

Jose Sanchez

“An ADHOC is not the board.”

Darrell Humes

“They were called up before the board and the committee. I can attest to that. I attended a meeting with the board here. On the day they had that meeting, the entire board, as a matter of fact I was in that meeting.”

Jose Sanchez

“It seems to be a unified staff front. Have you spoken to the union; Mister Panti or Mister Frazer?

German Tzul

“Yes we have done that and they are really even more concerned than they have been in the recent past. They are well aware of the string of events and inconsistency when it comes to due process not being followed. So I think we would refer to this incident of the dismissal of the teachers as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Nicole Bembridge

“And the union brought it up yesterday and they brought it to Mister Faber’s attention in the meeting yesterday that they had at the Princess. So the union definitely is having our back right now with that.”

German Tzul

“We will be organizing ourselves so much so that the other events coming up; we’re planning to have a formal press conference early next week to clarify each and every detail that we have been going through.”

Jose Sanchez

“Are you willing to take it to a further level with the consent of the union to walk in picket line?”

Nicole Bembridge

“You know what, we have thought about that and we have decided if every step we have to go a little bit further, if nothing is being done, then that is what we are going to have to do. Two have already lost their bread and butter, two already can’t pay their mortgage, two already can’t pay their bills at the end of this month because they were depending on a pay check. But yesterday they found out that they won’t be getting any.  So even if they say we don’t want any all twenty of this staff, then what when the next twenty come? The next twenty might go through the same thing. So at least let us make the sacrifice if that means for the future it’s going to be better.”

But before it gets better it may get worse. The principal threatened to call her lawyer if her face was shown on television. She then promptly proceeded to call of the classes for the rest of the day. The student body, well aware of the division between teachers and administration, did not seem to mind the early dismissal and emptied the grounds within minutes.  Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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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18 Responses for “Principal sends home student body when teachers protested firings”

  1. Observer says:

    This same principal was moved from a the school where she was at previously for “problems” between her and other people on that staff. It seems wherever she goes, problems follow. Logic tells us that an entire staff would not be up in arms unless they felt it was absolutely necessary. I cannot believe that all these teachers are imagining these things are happening. What kind of problems did this principal have at her previous school where she was vice principal? I think that is a valid question to ask in light of these problems.

  2. BZNinCALI says:

    I cannot make heads or tails out of this story other than the fact that two teachers were fired, they can no longer pay their mortgages & the others don’t like it. A few months ago, there were parents at your school complaining about something else & standing by the Principal if I remember correctly. Who was victimized? What prejudice? Teachers should not have a job for life if they are incapable of doing their job, damn the union…… Mr Tzul, love the vocab but I hope you’re not the English teacher.

  3. cg says:

    adults behaving like kids…..and we wonder why the students act like they rule the place

  4. Robert says:

    We need grown-ups running the schools and teaching in them. From what I see here, professionalism seems to be wanting on both sides. AND THE STUDENTS NEED TO BE IN SCHOOL, NOT SENT TO THE STREETS BECAUSE ADULTS CAN’T GET ALONG!

  5. Maria Marshall says:

    If this was not such a very serious matter it would be a very FUNNY CARTOON.

  6. btasty says:

    Everyone is quick to blame teachers for the downfall of an institution. You fail to recognize the system of slavery being forced on teachers. You see one side and because the “babysitters” of your children have had enough it becomes a problem. That is what maost parents see.. Babysitters… Discipline has degraded to such a level that students do what they want with out fear. They openly threaten teachers with violence and nothing is done. They are back in school the next day because “its an injustice to have kids out of school.” Rite??.. Blind fools..How can you teach when your hands are tied behind your backs concerning discipline. We adopt systems from different countries that have the resourses for that system and they fail there. We have no resourses here.. What do you think will happen..

  7. belizeanpride says:

    i totally agree with btasty,

    this issue of students being disrespectful and threatening has been going on since i was in high school but it’s become more and more due to the child abuse program tha has been implemented, now students take this as a advantage of the teachers and i saw this and i knew this was coming to be a major problem later which we now are seeing and thinking what the hell. I believe what the teachers said about this problem. hopefully, hopefully parents need to understand what is to teach some morals to their kids before sending them to school.

  8. Corozal Queen says:

    I call on the Minister of Education I agree with Observer everywhere this Principal goes she cause trouble. Faber is she one of your support why this woman cannot be moved or disciplined. We have seen so much time where the teachers are angry at administration at this school all because of this Principal. Please dont turn a blind eye Minister.

  9. MACAL RIVERA says:

    I agree that teachers have a right to speak up, but they could have had the press conference after classes!!! They put these students lives at risk, teachers knows well that Jack the ripper is at work, preying on young girls, and young boys if you no mine.
    Teachers, stop behaving like children, you have all rights but there is a time for everything
    Parents need to teach their children respect for the teachers too, teachers have a big responsibility too,
    sometimes parents put extra burden on teachers, common guys let sit down and reason, for every problem there is a solution, it all depends on how we approach one another.

  10. Scooby says:

    One of the interesting things we learn about us Belizean, things don’t bother us until it hits home. We are a selfish people, if the murders stay in southside and I live in northside, then its fine by me. Here you have a classic class of some teachers, who are working in an interesting environment. The students at Sadie Vernon aren’t not at the top of the PSE class, and they come with other issues, so one thing is certain for them to survive they need structure. The teacher in and of themselves cannot do it alone, without the help of administration. Firing or hiring people left right and center does not help, all you do is start the process afresh and prolong the issue(I wouldn’t expect Mrs. Humes to understand that). I think the issue at Sadie Vernon calls for Belizean support, not to fire or hire or place blame, but to simple to support with the hope of coming to a solution that empowers our teachers and creates an atmosphere where our children development can take place. Mrs Humes, if every time some under performs you terminate, then be, no government would be in power for more than a year. So what are you trying to say to PM Barrow, your next series or error will result in the PTA of Sadie Vernon dismissing. Just food for thought.

  11. Bel Can says:

    Violence is never the answer. The entire country needs to start treating each other with respect. It should start in the home. If you beat and disrespect your children they learn that violence and disrespect are appropriate reactions. They learn to expect that those they should respect, trust and look to for guidance will most certainly hurt and humiliate them. The cycle continues generation after generation. This cycle of violence in my humble opinion is the greatest problem faced by our country. All other problems stem from this.

  12. In the teachers' defense says:

    I take my hats off to those who choose to remain in the teaching profession today. It’s a difficult task and is highly underappreciated, underpaid and overwhelmingly demanding. I agree that corporal punishment is not the answer but to remain a teacher of a bunch of student, many of whom were born and raised by alcoholic and crack heads, is no easy task.

    Truth is a lot of these students belong in a concentration camp, but Sadie Vernon gave them the last chance at conventional schooling. If there are teachers who are incompetent, they won’t survive any type of educational institution, but to those of you criticizing, I would like for you to take up the challenge and spend a week, or even a day alongside a teacher Sadie Vernon HS, and see if your opinion will differ from mine, at the end of that challenge..

  13. who feels it knows it says:

    I do agree with the observer, I would like the news medias to go back to their archives. This same principal had numerous problems with staff at the school that she was prior to becoming the principal at Sadie Vernon. She also have a way to manipulate the minds of innocent people in order to join forces with her. Mr. Humes needs to stand independent as the president of the PTA and not take sides and bring down the very people who are education our underprivileged Belizean children. Please someone see if you can talk to someone from the previous administration from which this principal came.

  14. The Educated One says:

    I commend the teachers for uniting and standing up for what they believe is unfair treatment. THIS is the FIRST step to bringing about change. If you sit down and say nothing, nothing changes. HOWEVER, the “four years” is toooo long. If it’s been going on for a while, please stand up earlier. With that being said, now we wait to see the process flow for solution, after all, the students are suffering the loss of time in the classroom.

    As to the teachers, grammar and professionalism and all that….there is much work to be done and it’s obvious that constant training, coaching and teaching needs to be done with the teachers.

    Fixing these problems is a process, it does not happen overnight. Let’s discuss SOLUTIONS people…SOLUTIONS! Talking about the problem won’t fix the problem.

    The Board obviously needs to meet with the teachers. Explain the process and what part of that process was not followed (if any). Maybe the teachers offense did not warrant a meeting with the Board…we don’t know. But first thing’s first, is the Board Meeting with the Teachers. Be truthful and transparent. You can’t always fix the mistake but you can avoid it in the future….

  15. concerned citizen says:

    i agree with who feels it knows it. MR. HUMES you need to be objective and stop listening to NEGATIVITY. That will not get Sadie Vernon anywhere. If you say you have the children at heart then be an ADULT and do so. Stop acting like a child who is homeless. That principal needs to change her ways and work with her teachers. You cant tell me that the entire staff is crazy. I can plainly see that the staff must be demotivated to go to school with all the problems they have to face on a daily basis. Who in their right minds would want to deal with that everyday. But it seems that these teachers DO have the STUDENTS at heart because they have stayed there and endured all the punishment they go through at that school. MR. HUMES ask yourself, if there are really so much absences in your DOCUMENTATION why do you think this is so. HAVE YOU EVER SPOKEN TO THE TEACHERS AND ASK THEM WHY????????? DID YOU EVER HEAR THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY?????????

  16. Common Sense says:

    Right now is not the time to be colliding heads belize it is a wrong time to do that our kids need to be off the streets and in school getting their education and us like adults have a role to play and that is to give our children the education they need with positivity behind it. Can you not see what is happening in the middle east because people don’t want to calmly sit down and talk things over like adults why should our children pay the price of being send home what if a gunman would open fire with a semi automatic weapon while the students were exiting the school grounds and could have been prevented because the gunmen were going to shoot someone else but decided to shoot the students since they were in sight….GROW THE !*@# UP PEOPLE

  17. Disgusted! says:

    Apparently, while the rest of the world is moving forward, Belize is stuck in a time warp of petty politics, mediocre education, corruption, and the list goes on…. Then the masses get offended when the rest of the world looks at you as a bib fricking laughing stock and refer to you as “Third World.” p.s. I am a Belizean so I am entitled to this opinion CAS DA TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. marco says:

    i am a parent of a child attending the troubled school. i asked my child what he thinks about all this. very interesting what he said. he told me that he believes that students behave really bad at school, some of them. he noticed that some students can do what they want to teachers and other students and nothing is done. he says he believes that teachers try to teach but students make it hard. he told me that he sorry for the teachers who go to class and try to teach and implement rules which are blatantly ignored by a few who always tell the teachers i going da mis Baptist. this makes me realize that obviously the teachers are not the problem but rather the principal. plze minista help our kids stop protecting the principal and tell Mrs. Humes to stop his nonsense caus i dont support her i am a parent too.

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