By Marion Ali
The student enrollment at Faith Nazarene Primary School has gone from 420 to 390 in a matter of months, with many parents still not sending their children to school amid the conflict between principal and teachers.
The school’s principal, Policarpia Pech indicated to The Reporter that on Monday, the student attendance was almost 100 percent, but that the following day, it had dipped to around 50 percent, following a Parent/Teacher meeting called by the school’s management.
At that meeting, parents heard the details of a letter sent by the Teaching Services Commission regarding the ongoing conflict.
The General Manager for Nazarene schools, Raymond Shepherd told the Reporter this week that the management had initially made a submission to the Commission for the demotion of Pech based on “the results of an investigation started last (school) year on allegations by teachers and parents objecting to her treatment of teachers, students and parents. “There was also the issue of mistrust and we investigated what was the nature of that mistrust. We compiled the complaints and presented those and we submitted ( a proposal) for her demotion.”
The Commission placed Pech on administrative leave for the month-long investigation and since then, has indicated to the Commission that it needed to clarify a few points on which it is making its case against the principal.
But while these procedural measures take place, the tensions between the principal and the teachers increased, and Pech, in a meeting recently with representatives from the Commission and the Ministry of Education, applied to go on long leave until a suitable transfer to another school within the Nazarene management could take place. This was a position the Management was willing to accept in order to diffuse the conflict, but Pech’s application was not approved because it was not in line with the Education Rules, which stipulate that all applications for long leave must be made a year in advance in order to find a suitable replacement.
The investigation against Pech is not yet complete, according to Luis Carballo, the Ministry of Education’s Chief Education Officer for the Cayo district. Carballo, who was present at the meeting with the parents and teachers this week, said the school’s management is still expected to provide certain clarifications into tits case against Pech
The Ministry of Education is involved in the process up to this point in a supervisory role, to give the parties a chance to resolve the matter, and will only intervene with a view to making changes if it deems the conflict cannot be otherwise resolved.
But as far as the Nazarene Management is concerned, it has presented its case against Pech and Schools Manager Shepherd has indicated that the Education Rules do not require them to provide the kind of evidence that would be necessary as in a court law.
Principal Pech meanwhile, told the Reporter that she copes with the tension because she cares for the children twho attend the school. She has denied the allegations made against her.
The principal also lays similar accusations of mistreatment against the teachers. She told the Reporter that she is contemplating applying for long leave to take effect as early as possible, under the Education Rules stipulations. Pech is not due for retirement until January of 2021.