SUBMISSION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF A MEETING BETWEEN PARENTS/ GUARDIANS AND THE BOARD AND LEADERSHIP OF SAINT ANDREWS INTERNATIONAL PRIMARY SCHOOL
SUBMISSION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF A MEETING BETWEEN PARENTS/ GUARDIANS AND THE BOARD AND LEADERSHIP OF SAINT ANDREWS INTERNATIONAL PRIMARY SCHOOL (SAIPS) HELD ON 11 JULY 2022 AT SAIPS SCHOOL HALL FROM 17:30 HOURS
1.1 Parents and Guardians of SAIPS called for a meeting with the Board and Leadership to discuss complaints that they lodged with the school. This happened after one of the female teachers, Ms. Nola Formentin was manhandled on the school premises by guards which were hired by Management when she came to bid farewell to her fellow teachers at the end of her contract on 8 July 2022.
1.2 At the end of the meeting, Parents and Guardians were requested by the Board to submit a write up of their complaints and recommendations to the Board to enable it to make an informed resolution.
1.3 Herewith is a submission of the complaints and recommendations presented by Parents and Guardians at the meeting.
2.0 PRESENTATION OF THE COMPLAINTS AND SUBMISSION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS
(i) Complaint on New Uniform and Logo
2.1 Parents and Guardians noted that there has been a move by management of the school to change the School Uniform and Logo of SAIPS without sufficient consultations. A new Uniform with new colour and extra features like a necktie and sleeveless jumper wants to be introduced by Management
2.2 Parents and Guardians believe the current uniform and logo of SAIPS has a rich history and heritage that cannot be changed or erased without sufficient consultations. The current uniform with African prints was designed by the students themselves and the logo reminds the nation its history of colonialism.
2.3 Parents and Guardians complained that the current Leadership want to bulldoze them to change the School Uniform and Logo thereby erasing the history and heritage of the school which is against the democratic principles on which the school is premised.
2.4 Parents and Guardians also noted that the new Uniform has been designed in a way that it can not be sourced anywhere apart from the school thereby monopolizing the supply of the uniform by a single supplier. This is contrary to Section 48 of the Competition and Fair-Trading Act (CFTA) which promotes competition and consumer protection in the education sector. Section 32 of the CFTA also prohibits traders from making the supply of particular goods or services dependent upon the purchase of other goods or services from the supplier to the consignee.
2.5 Parents and Guardians proposed that due to lack of sufficient consultations and communication, Management’s proposal of changing both the School Uniform and Logo should be pended until a fair, inclusive, transparent, and democratic process is undertaken.
(a) Parents and Guardians submitted that the new School Uniform and Logo should be pended due to lack of sufficient consultations until further consultations which shall be fair, inclusive, transparent, and democratic are done.
(b) Parents and Guardians noted that Management breached the Principles of the School’s Communications Policy which urges Management to ensure that Consultation issues, plans, and changes which may affect the work of the school is inclusive of all appropriate stakeholder groups. (Emphasis added)
(c) Parents and Guardians further noted that by monopolizing the supply of the school to a single supplier, Management will be breaching Sections 32 and 38 of the CFTA.
(ii) Complaint on Inadequate communication and stakeholder engagement
2.6 Parents and Guardians lamented over Communication breakdown and lack of stakeholder consultations on important decisions that the school has implemented and lack of transparency against the Nolan Principles of openness and honesty,
2.7 Parents and Guardians complained that communication being a two-way process, the school mixes up important information with routine ones and that sometimes Management uses School Council which comprises of students in making some of the most important decisions leaving behind Parents and Guardians in the process.
2.8 Parents and Guardians suggested that instead of flooding them with e-mails which some of them do not contain important information, Management should be flagging out e-mails which contain important information to members.
2.9 Parents and Guardians also complained that the Leadership of the school keep neglecting feedback from the Parents and Guardians, for example, on the change in starting time, which is against COBIS Principles, Muslim parents complained about the fact that their children would be late for Madrassa or miss it due to the late school finishing time.
The school leadership responded by telling them that they represented only a minority of parents who had that complaint and told the concerned Muslim parents that they could pick up their children earlier before the end of school. This would however mean that those children would miss out on valuable teaching.
(a) Parents and Guardians submitted that there is inadequate information and stakeholder engagement by Management on important issues in breach of the Communications Policy.
(b) Parents and Guardians submitted that Management should be flagging out important e-mails to them for their attention.
(iii)Complaint on Financial Issues
2.10 Parents and Guardians complained that the school engaged private investigators when investigating the issue of leakage of an e-mail which led to suspension of Mrs. Janet Phillips and Ms. Nola Formentin. Parents and Guardians wanted to know how much these private investigators have been paid and where the money has come from. Parents and Guardians wanted to know how much these private investigators have been paid and where the money has come from.
2.11 Parents and Guardians also wondered where the school is getting money to pay off some teachers who are alleged to have signed No-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with the school upon leaving the school. An example of Mrs. Jess King was provided who was paid in this regard.
2.12 Parents and Guardians also informed the Board and Leadership that it is aware that the school engaged some Lawyers to defend it at the Industrial Relations Court where Mrs. Phillips and Ms. Nola Formentin took their suspension case and wondered where the school got the money from.
2.13 Parents and Guardians informed the meeting that if there will be any litigation concerning the Friday 8 July 2022 incident and any litigation surrounding the suspension of members of staff in connection with the incident, it should be members of Management paying in their individual capacity and not the school.
2.14 Parents and Guardians also requested for transparency and accountability of the Board on financial issues as to the financial statements, audit results, approved annual budget and the name of the school’s auditors and Insurers as they felt some Board members were conflicted in that they provide these services to the school.
2.15 Parents and Guardians requested the Board to be transparent on how much money has been made by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and what the money has been used for.
(a) The Board and Leadership need to be transparent on financial issues concerning the school.
(b) Board should inform Parents and Guardians how much was paid to Mrs. Jess King for the NDA and where the money came from.
(c) The Board should inform Parents and Guardians how much they have paid the private investigators in the suspended teachers matter and where the money has come from.
(iv) Complaint on Teacher welfare and exodus
2.16 Parents and Guardians noted that there has been an unusual high number in staff turnover and that the school is losing qualified, experienced, and long-serving staff with institutional memory. The most worrisome thing is that these teachers are moving to rival schools.
2.17 Parents and Guardians wanted to know the reason behind this mass exodus of staff and if at all exit interviews are conducted with these members of staff and the results thereof. Parents and Guardians also brought in issues of nepotism at the school as some members of staff including in-experienced teachers and administration staff were recruited because of their connection to Management team.
2.18 Parents and Guardians also wanted to know why the school leadership deliberately delays references for staff that have left the school and uses withholding of references as a weapon for further frustrating members of staff who want to move on in life. An example was given of Mrs. Ingrid Brystrom and Mrs. Dorothy Zimba, amongst others.
2.19 Parents and Guardians wanted to know how many teachers have been recruited by the school so far and if at all proper processes and procedures were followed in these recruitments as they never saw any advert from the school calling for such recruitments.
Parents lamented over the lack of specialized teachers in ICT, Music, Special needs and French at the school as the ones with expertise have since left the school.
2.20 Parents and Guardians also wanted to know the profiles of the new teachers that have been recruited as it is alleged that the new recruits are at Early Career Teachers (ECT) level. This means these teachers are undergoing their teaching induction as such the school has to provide significant support regarding mentorship and Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
2.21 Parents and Guardians wondered if the school could call these new recruits experts and if they even qualify to be applied for Temporary Employment Permits (TEPS). Parents and Guardians also wanted to know if the school is struggling to employ experienced staff and if at all there are no teaching assistants who can be promoted within the current staff to fill the posts of the staff that are leaving the school or into senior administrative posts.
2.22 Parents and Guardians wanted to know what Management is hiding behind the issuance of NDAs and why the school feels the need for NDAs for its members of staff leaving the school, if there is nothing they are trying to hide, and its financial implications.
2.23 Parents and Guardians wanted to know the reason for the change of timetable for the school that necessitated the starting time to be 6:15am. This adversely affected the junior members of staff who have no means of transport to come to work and some of them were involved in accidents because of using unsafe modes of transport to ferry them in the morning to school.
2.24 Parents and Guardians also complained of having their children a short break before lunch. Parents were worried because most of their children were coming home with food still packed in their containers meaning they did not have time to eat during break time. Parents were also concerned because the change in time inconvenienced members of the Muslim community who have their children attend madrassa after school.
2.25 Parents and Guardians complained about an expectant member of staff who has been left without a class for the new academic year without consulting her. Customary practice has been that pregnant teachers are consulted first and are allocated a class and parents have been alerted that a temporary teacher will be in place until the said teacher’s maternity leave is completed. Parents and Guardians felt that there is unfair labour practice and discrimination at the school in that some are consulted, and others are not consulted in this respect.
(a) Parents and Guardians observed that the Learning and Teaching Policy of the school has been breached as it is underpinned in the principle that children learn the best when they have the opportunity to be taught by highly skilled professionals who are all appropriately qualified to international standards which is not the case at the material time.
(b) Parents and Guardians therefore demanded an answer why there has been a high staff turnover at the school now than in the previous times.
(c) Parents and Guardians demanded answers as to the change in timetable of the school in terms of starting time and breaktime against COBIS Principles.
(d) Parents and Guardians demanded answers on the rumours of nepotism at the school as some inexperienced teachers are recruited because they are connected to Management team.
(v) Complaint on COBIS and Governance
2.26 Parents and Guardians noted that the school is an accredited COBIS school and hence should follow compliance standards that are set up by COBIS. Parents and Guardians noted that the school have breached several COBIS standards since the coming in of the new Management and wonder if their children are safe at the school.
2.27 Parents gave the following examples of breaches of COBIS standards:
(a) Compliance standard 1B on safeguarding and safer recruitment which reads as follows: The School should have a clear methodology in place for reporting concerns and handling potential disclosures which is known by all in the school community, including during times when the school may be fully, or partially closed.
(b) Compliance Standard 4B on Governance which reads as follows: The school board should have measures in place for governors/ proprietors to register interests and manage conflicts of interest. As evidence they should have evidence of provision for how the Board, and any sub-committees, handle disputes/ conflict of interest issues in meetings.
(c) Compliance Standard 4 F on Governance reads; Governors or proprietors should provide records of meetings and decisions which show evidence of active and committed governance profiles and contact details for the governors/ proprietors are
made available to parents along with key policies. As evidence the school should provide up to date profiles of governors/ proprietors and their roles and responsibilities are available to parents and staff, parents and staff know how to contact governors/ proprietors and that relevant policies are openly available and accessible to parents.
(d) Accreditation Standard 9A on Communication reads; Parents are aware of the school’s aims and ethos and regularly receive news relevant to their children and about the development of the school. As evidence, the school regularly sends newsletters, communicates, meets, and has information that helps to keep parents informed. This could include social media, the website and school portals.
(e) Accreditation Standard 9C that reads; Parents should know how to contact key personnel most appropriately and how to raise issues or seek advice and information and 9D that states that Parents are aware of admissions arrangements and have open access to relevant school policies.
2.28 Parents and Guardians noted that the school is breaching all the above COBIS standards and noted that even the School Policies were single-handedly removed from the school website by the Headmistress calling them ‘not fit for purpose’ and until now they have not been replaced.
(a) Parents and Guardians noted that COBIS standards does not stipulate that the school day or time should be increased or breaktimes reduced and requested Management to revert to the old time that the school was using.
(b) Parents and Guardians noted that some COBIS standards were breached by Management and requested the Board to deal with Management decisively.
(c) Parents and Guardians wondered if their children were safe at the school in the hands of new Management.
(vi) Complaint on Leadership, Professionalism, and Relationships at workplace
2.29 Parents and Guardians noted that there is a crisis of leadership at the school since the coming in of the new management as there has been an unprecedented level of negative energy that has created a toxic atmosphere. This toxic atmosphere, no matter how it can be justified is poisonous to their children.
2.30 Parents and Guardians noted that there has been a litany of examples of incidents of experienced and highly skilled teachers leaving enmasse. This exodus is unprecedented as it has just happened in recent times.
2.31 Parents and Guardians complained that there has been a breakdown in engagement and communication between the school and its stakeholders as an example of lack of professionalism on the part of Management.
2.32 Parents and Guardians also noted that there is unprecedented level of dissatisfaction and a military zone atmosphere when even kids in the school are sent into a lock down like in a war zone or disaster scene which adversely impact and traumatize most children. An example of this was that of last Friday 8 July 2022 when the Deputy Headmistress, Ms. Hannah Bradley ordered class teachers through her email at 7:36am to affect a lock down of the whole school.
2.33 Parents and Guardians noted an intimate and steamy relationship between the Headmistress, Mrs. Naomi Jn Charles and the Swimming Trainer, Mr. Yona Walasi which is a breach of Staff Conduct Policy whereby staff are expected to conduct themselves professionally and uphold public trust and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour in and out of school. Examples and allegations of the relationship between the Headmistress and the Swimming Trainer were given by Parents and Guardians.
2.34 Parents and Guardians further noted that the action by the Headmistress in engaging herself and indulging in a relationship with a junior member of staff breached Rules and Values Policy of the School as well as Misconduct contrary to SAIPS Conditions of Service as they are both supposed to show integrity, respect and are urged to respect themselves amongst others.
2.35 Parents and Guardians noted that by acting in a relationship with a junior member of staff, the Headmistress has failed to display leadership in that she has failed to understand her professional expectations of her role and act within the framework laid out by the school in this regard which is a breach of the Staff Conduct Policy.
(vii) Complaint on the Friday Video Incident
2.36 Parents and Guardians registered a concern over a video incident that happened at the school on Friday 8 July 2022 at the school involving some security guards and a schoolteacher, Ms. Nola Formentin who was assaulted by the guards.
2.37 Parents and Guardians noted that whilst Ms. Nola Formentin was being assaulted by the security guards who were heavily armed wearing body armour and balaclavas, there
was complete absence of leadership by the Headmistress or senior management in dealing with what was a traumatizing event for everyone present.
2.38 Parents and Guardians noted with shock how the school used safeguarding as an excuse for putting the school on lock down telling children to hide under desks for a teacher who came unarmed to bid farewell to her friends at the school before departing back to her country, Australia.
2.39 Parents and Guardians were horrified with how the school blatantly lied to them and the media and misrepresented information concerning the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Formentin’s assault. The numerous videos taken just before she was manhandled was evidence that the school leadership gave parents false information as she was calmly seated at the Splash Khonde taking a video of herself when a security officer was heard saying ‘This is now an order, take the phone away from her and carry her out’ before they started manhandling her.
2.40 Parents and Guardians informed the Board and Management that they were aware that the leadership of the school had a personal vendetta against Mrs. Formentin because she was a whistle-blower for the professional misconduct involving the Headmistress and a Junior Staff Member and that this vindictiveness was what was used to accuse her of sending out the hoax email and suspending her and that led to ordering for her manhandling.
(a) Parents and Guardians requested for the school leadership to send a public apology to parents and Ms. Formentin for their conduct and retract the deceptive letter sent to Parents about the incident, specially when they knew that Ms. Formentin was vindicated by the Industrial Relations Court and proven not guilty when she came to the school.
(b) Parents and Guardians wanted to know who ordered the security guards to manhandle Mrs. Formentin as it would lead to a criminal offence.
(c) Parents and Guardians demanded a public apology from the Board and Management for the incident as it has put the school in disrepute.
(d) Parents and Guardians demanded immediate dismissal of Management of the School i.e., both the Headmistress and her Deputy and the Assistant Head teacher as well as the Head of Security and the Site Manager for the way they handled the Friday’s event.
(e) Parents and Guardians further registered lack of trust and confidence in the Management and Leadership of the School in their call for their immediate dismissal.
(a) The key concern is that Parents and Guardians have lost trust and confidence in the current Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and this trust is NOT going to be restored. This will in turn make the school impossible to lead under the current leadership.
(b) The underlying fact is that this management and Senior Leadership Team has made consistently poor decisions that have brought the school into disrepute and from
their lack of transparency, honesty, and remorse they are likely to continue to lead ineffectively.
(c) More dangerous is the way that they treat staff and use our children as bait for their unlawful practices. The continual bullying, persecution of staff has caused us as Parents and Guardians to lose valuable teachers at a crucial time when we needed their services at SAIPS.
(d) The current leadership have proven to show little regard to Parents and Guardians views and have been caught out in lies time and time again sticking as one unit and not holding each other accountable.
(e) Their innate attitude towards staff members and the wider community will not change overnight and as a school we risk losing more staff and students should they continue to carry on in their respective posts.
(f) Notwithstanding the fact that some of the senior leaders may end up entangled in police and human rights investigations over the assault of Ms. Formentin and the suspension of Mrs. Phillips and their unlawful labour practices that have caused several staff to lose out on job opportunities due to their failure to provide references. Incidents that should not have happened under an effective leadership.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND PRAYER
From the foregoing, Parents and Guardians recommend and pray for the following:
(a) That we have cast a vote of no confidence in the current Management and Senior Leadership Team, and it is our demand that the following staff be dismissed immediately:
1. Mrs. Naomi Jn Charles
2. Ms. Hanna Bradley
3. Mrs. Geldehuys
4. Mr. Yona Walasi
5. Mr. Andrew Mlomo
6. Mr. Benson Michongwe
(b) We further recommend that the entire Senior Leadership Team (SLT) be reviewed and that recent recruitments should go under urgent review and that any internal promotions be frozen forthwith until the interview and recruitment process has been justified through adequate applications, certifications, and due process.
(c) That costs of any legal repercussions from the lack of sound judgment shall be borne by management both jointly and severally.
(d) That the Board should hold elections for Board members that have left and provide a full investigative report that it claims to have conducted.
For: Parents and Guardians