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#448360 - 10/09/12 01:21 PM Teachers, Students Walk Out Of OW High School
Marty Offline
And while they demonstrated in Cayo - today a more spontaneous action was held in Orange Walk - as hundreds of students and about two dozen teachers staged a mass walkout from the Ladyville Technical High school.

They did it to protest the management style of the Principal - and to demand her immediate removal.

7news was there - and here's what happened:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
This morning at a few minutes to 8:00 classes at Orange Walk Technical High should have been starting up - but instead police were guarding the entrance

And as the bell rang at 8:00 am - instead of going to class - the students started heading for the exits.

Students from all forms walked out onto the street in unison - they seemed to know the plan as it had been shaping up over the weekend. And pretty soon a fair amount of the school's 80 students were on the street milling around having a good old time.

Some even had signs hoisted high while in the school yard there was disarray - for sure no learning would occur this Monday morning.

And when we saw the teachers streaming out the gate - that was pretty much confirmed

William Robinson, IT Teacher
"As you can see all our students have walked out of our school because they are expressing solidarity about what is happening in our institution. We have practically more than half our staff out here to express that we are very dissatisfied with what the principal is doing as we speak."

"The main objective of what we are asking the government of Belize, everybody who has a say in this institution is that we don't want the principal in this institution; that is the ultimate objective."

They are talking about Principal Elizabeth Muschamp who has been here for a year - but has apparently made many in her staff unhappy.

And while the principal and those teachers who support her strictly refused to speak with us - Those disgruntled staffers have a lengthy document cataloguing their concerns; it is signed by 27 of 47 teachers

Jules Vasquez
"So now you all have walk out of the classroom; out of the school - many of the students have done so as well. When will you all return?"

William Robinson, IT Teacher
"We have to wait and see what's going to happen because like I said we don't have authority to send students to their respective homes."

Jules Vasquez
"They are walking home right now or walking somewhere."

William Robinson, IT Teacher
"I am seeing and we inform them they are not supposed to leave because we don't have any authority for that, no teacher is going to leave. We have to be here, this is our job and what we are doing right now is that we are trying to express our discontent with what is happening and if we are not being heard we are going to take it as far as possible. I am saying that we are going to even call off classes tomorrow because teachers are not going to be teaching - bottom-line. Students are coming and they are not going to be taught by our teachers."

Strong talk - and it was backed up by the students - but what are all these issues?:

Student
"This morning when I came to school I thought that I was going to my father's farm because as I came to school there were feces all over as you entered the gate. I don't think Technical is a pasture, as far as I am concern it is a school, not a pasture."

Jules Vasquez
"Whose fault is that?"

Student
"The principal."

William Robinson, IT Teacher
"You can go into our compound and you can see all the nasty things that our students have to go through. This is not right. If we are going to have animals and so on we have to ensure that we properly take care of these animals. Students learn about them and they feed and so on; whatever projects they are embarking. Come on, this is a school."

Jossette Dawson - Student
"If you would take a look in our school yard you would see all kind of animal feces and we have to eat in that same school yard there. That is just disgusting."

Criscia Cowo - 1st Form
"Sometimes we want to use the bathroom and only one is open. From 400 students only one bathroom is open. That's unfair for us and she wants us to go eat under the shed where there are like 10 tables for 400 students; that's unfair what she is doing."

Teacher
"We had a business expo last school year, we had a raffle, we had a fashion show and up to today the teachers - those who are here have not gotten information about how much money we made."

Student
"She is too ignorant and don't try to help us in the school. The shed doesn't have any chairs and she expects us to sit down and eat right there."

Jules Vasquez
"The principal isn't running a popularity contest, so then why you all have to walk out school on that?"

Student
"Because we disagree with what happened with the other students. Everybody have the right to an education."

Flor Rhaburn, Daughter Suspended
"I did it for solidarity of my daughter - one month she is out of school."

Jules Vasquez
"Is it your opinion that she was drinking at the carnival in Belize City?"

Flor Rhaburn, Daughter Suspended
"I tell everyone that I wasn't there in Belize City but her older sister was with her and she told me that if she was drinking then take her packing, but no she say that she wasn't drinking."

Aguida Ramos - Vendor
"It's not fair that they are charging $500 for one little piece of house in the compound of Technical High school. Next thing, there is the principal selling in the high school too; he is affecting us because we have one price for food and he has another price. That's not fair."

Teacher
"Only today as you notice her husband hasn't reach, but he is here every single day, sometimes even on weekends. As a matter of fact he is here."

Jules Vasquez
"He is here doing what?"

Teacher
"We don't know and we are questioning that. We don't want his here. I don't know what he is doing here every day."

Julissa Torres - Student
"The one I am most concern about and I think the students are too is the lunch changes - they are confining us to this shed for lunch. We have to stay there for the full 40 minutes and I feel like, we are in class for like 2 hours and now we have to stay there. What happen to our freedom? We have to at least have the freedom to roam about the campus because that's the only time we have out of classes and then we have to ask for a bathroom pass - it doesn't makes sense really. Its feels like I am confined like in a prison or something like that."

But not all the students or teachers are unhappy with their principal:

Giannini Gillette - Student
"I don't support it because the principal didn't do anything wrong. When she came here this school has change - they put on new programs, they fix up the place. For all those years the school wasn't paint, it wasn't fixed up. Everything change now and I don't know why the teachers and the students are against this - this is a better principal that came. They don't appreciate what they have - when they have something good, they don't appreciate it. When they notice that everything went wrong then they will say that they should have stay with that principal. All this is foolishness; I am not with this and I don't see anything wrong with this principal."

Shan Hernandez - Student
"I feel bad because they are talking nonsense. Some of us eat at the feeding program; sometime we don't have anything to eat and this principal takes money from her pocket and gives us to eat."

Shantae Dominguez - Student
"All of this is unhealthy for the school because we are missing out on a whole day of classes. This isn't bringing any good to any of us."

And it continued like that for hours, no one taking charge - students walking around - some hanging around, some chatting in the classroom, some going home.

The Board chairlady and the district education officer came to mediate - and arranged a meeting with the minister

District Education Officer
"At 10am the minister is coming in so we can have a meeting."

Jules Vasquez
"So what should happen now?"

District Education Officer
"We'll speak after the meeting."

That meeting was convened at around 11 - and went for over two hours - followed by a meeting with the board.

So, here's what came out of that meeting; a late evening release from the Ministry says that, quote, "While the Minister listened to the concerns of the staff, he also made it clear to all present that legally he is not authorized to make any decisions on the concerns that they have raised," end quote.

Those decisions are for the Board of Management and so the minister said that he was there to quote "establish a process by which the school could return to daily operation."

According to the ministry release, quote, "The need for all to act professionally in order to resolve the concerns was agreed by all." So the timeline is that daily operation of the school should be restore dby tomorrow, October 9th. And then, the board, the principal and District Education Manager will meet with the staff to hear their concerns before the end of the week; and this meeting will be preceded by a meeting between the principal and heads of department.

According to the release, "all agreed to the proposed way forward."

Channel 7


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#448460 - 10/10/12 01:45 PM Re: Teachers, Students Walk Out Of OW High School [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Minister Faber Says He'll Listen To Teachers Concerns But Will Not Make Decision

As mentioned in the story, the Minister of Education Youth and Sports Honorable Patrick Faber along with Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education David Leacock and Orange Walk District Education Manager Karla Alvarez, met with the staff, board and principal of the school this afternoon.

We understand that while the Minister listened to the concerns of the staff, he also made it clear that legally he is not authorized to make any decisions on the concerns raised. Minister Faber also clarified that he was not at the meeting to make any decisions on the matters of concern raised by the staff but merely to establish a process by which the school could return to daily operation while at the same time ensuring that teachers concerns are heard and addressed while going through the right process.

At the end of the meeting it was decided that classes will proceed as usual tomorrow. It was also agreed that: The board of directors will be fully constituted within two weeks and that officials from the Ministry of Education will meet with members of the board to sensitize them about the role and functions of the board, the principal and District Education Manager will meet with the staff to hear their concerns before the end of the week; this meeting will be preceded by a meeting between the principal and heads of department. All were in agreement that these meetings will be conducted in a tactful and respectful way on both sides and based on the information shared in these meetings; the board will deliberate and take appropriate actions to address concerns.

As for the 17 year old student who was asked to withdraw from the school after she was accused of consuming alcohol, that matter will be dealt with separately by the board in its capacity as managing authority.


Teachers and Students Of O/W Technical High School Want Principal Gone

Screen_shot_2012-10-08_at_7.53.53_PMClasses were interrupted this morning Elizabeth Muschamp; she has been the principal for Orange Walk Technical High School since last year November but now the majority  of the teachers and students are demanding that she be removed from her post. Their reasons are many and each student and teacher has their specificities as to why they want Muschamp out of the school. The teachers don’t want Muschamp to be fired but rather transferred to another school. Besides the teachers and students the security guards and vendors have a problem with Principal Muschamp, all of which was expressed in today’s peaceful demonstration. Our news team out on the scene and here is that report. 

Hipolito Novelo - Reporting

Orange Walk Technical High School is home to over 800 students and 47 teachers. Its motto is “The school that cares” but it seems that the institution has lost that touch and the teachers and students are putting the blame on Principal Elizabeth Muschamp. To show their discontent 27 teachers and half of the student body walked out of class this morning.

William Robinson, Teacher

“We as a staff of Orange Walk Tech. we are asking, we are appealing, to all ministry of education stakeholders, private sector, parents, teacher in general because we do have one or two teachers who are right inside our schools grounds who are not supporting this entire demonstration that we are doing as we speak in this moment.  This is something that has been happening since we started the school year, we have made other intentions that we want to listen, we want to trash out these concerns in a democratic way if we could find solutions but literally that has been denied to the teachers, the Principal out rightly stood up and she said that no she is not going to entertain a meeting with the teachers and this is actually step number two; because we are tired of it.”

What exactly are they tired of? Well apparently Principal Muschamp is implementing changes without consultation. But one of the main reasons for the protest has to do with the finances of the school.

Teachers

“We are not asking for her termination, we are not asking her to be terminated, we don’t want her here because of the way she is managing this school, we don’t know what exactly is happening with our monies, we had a business expo last school year, we had a raffle, we had a fashion show and up to today the teachers those who are here, we have not gotten how much money we made, right, up to today, so we don’t know exactly what happen with that money.”

Parents also joined in the protest this morning. At the front line was Floridalba Rhaburn who came out with posters in hand, protesting, according to her, the unfair expulsion of her 17 year old daughter.

William Robinson, Teacher

“We as teachers stand together so we are not encouraging no student, that is what is happening.”

Jules Vasques – Channel 7

“Are you asking the students for support or are you spontaneously given?”

William Robinson, Teacher

“It looks like it is spontaneously because we are not telling anything to students.”

Teacher

“It’s time to take a stand, like I said if it takes sacrifice to for the teachers to go on a strike for one, two, three days even a week we are prepared to do so.”

As mentioned, most of the student body walked out of the classroom along with teachers since they too have a problem with the way Muschamp runs the school.

Student

“This morning when I came to school I thought that I was coming to my old man farm because as you come in you see sheep here as you are coming in at the gate, so don’t think Technical is a pasture, as far as I am concern it is a school it is not a pasture.  It is the Principal’s fault because the sheep don’t belong to the school they belong to the Principal.  They have sheep astray in the compound and it sounds like Mary had a little lamb and I think she is Mary.”

Screen_shot_2012-10-08_at_7.51.55_PMWilliam Robinson, Teacher

“I want to just mention that as part of the changes that we are having in this institution we are venturing more into the agriculture area and we are getting animals and so but main you have ways about doing things and like what he said you can go in our compound and  you can see all the nasty things that our students have to go through.”

Teacher

“My concern would be I was given nine P.E. classes and three Math classes, when we have a sport director who does not even teach P.E. so the unfairness of the schedule and out of a possible thirty classes for the week, one hour classes I have twenty seven, so I feel it is unfair, I feel that we need to have a say or we need to meet or dialogue and the schedule needs to be redone and have it fair for everyone.   From last year it has been boiling over, one of the vice-principals make comments and talks to you like if he is God, he is very rude.  In an assembly he went out there and he was very rude to the teachers, I believe that he needs to kind of calm down his tone and learn to talk to people and I also believe that he needs to rethink some of the words he is going to say and how he treats certain people because we are not use to be treated in an certain manner so I believe everything boils over and this has been boiling over for a while.”

Julissa Torres, Student

“I'm just concern about the changes that the principals is trying to put in our school, I mean some of them are positive but some of them I don’t feel it is right then for education and such.  The changes I most concern about and I think the students are is the lunch changes is that they confined us to the shed for lunch and we have to stay there for the full forty minutes and I feel like we are in class for at least two hours and now we have to stay there, what happen to our freedom to run about the campus, cause it is the only time we have out of classes and then we have to ask for a bathroom pass, it doesn’t make sense really, I feel I am confined and I am in a prison or something like that.”

Hipolito Novelo – Reporter

“Previously did you know this was going to happen?”

Julissa Torres, Student

“I did think it was going to go such an extent, I didn’t think I had to eat under a shed, I didn’t know it was going to be like that.”

Hipolito Novelo – Reporter

“Talking about right now...”

Julissa Torres, Student 

“I didn’t expect it at all and I speak for the majority that we really don’t agree with this. My parent is actually a teacher here and she knows exactly what is going on and I feel I missing all but I feel it is for a good cause.”

Teachers and students; however, are not the only ones who are dissatisfied with Muschamp’s management skills. From what we found out vendors also have her on their black list as she is being blamed for increasing vendors fees from $25.00 to $125.00. 

Aguida ramon, Vendor

“The business is slow and we cannot take out the money to pay the rent and a part $30 for light bill which we didn’t even use and water, that is not fair.  We expect to bring down the price of the rent and I have gone and talked to someone about the building that water is coming is and they told us that they cannot do anything.”

And while it seems that Muschamp has an entire army against her, there are those who are against her removal.  Besides the finances and the conditions of the school, teachers also have a problem with Muschamp’s husband who they say just spends too much time at the school and they also want him gone.

Teacher 

“Only today if you notice her husband hasn’t reached but he is here every single day, sometimes even weekends, he is here as a matter of fact, he is here.  We don’t know what he is doing here, we are questioning that, we don’t want him here and I don’t know what he is doing here every day.  To our knowledge we see him at our cafeteria; we don’t know who hired him, so we are asking responses to these things we don’t know if there is proper accountability at our cafeteria.  Another example was just recently Thursday HOD’s went and spoke to our staff representatives and we made our concerns and what happen is that she discriminate against those who went and only calling four of us to go and those who went also with us they didn’t  call them because according to her she started to say a lot of other things so from Thursday day we were telling her what we want, we were not demanding anything we were requesting and we even gave her solutions and she said that we have to compromise and we have to do this and we have to do that so basically the majority here and all of us here who are standing together we are dissatisfied completely with what is happening in our institution and we are ready to take a stand.”

While it might seem irresponsible on their part, teachers say they staged the protest after exhausting all other options.

Teacher

“Several teachers have gone to the district education office, some have gone to the chairlady, futile response, as a matter of fact, we don’t know how they get to know that this one gone, this one gone because then we are discriminated against.”

Otilio Munoz, President BNTU OW Branch

“So we need to sit down and especially if we have a majority of students out of a majority of the faculty discontented with what is happening and it is ending a strong message we need to have the people concern sit down and talk about it and try to solve it internally, I feel that one of the good news from Ms. Enid Morales as the chairlady of the board is that the minister of education himself will be coming at ten o’clock and meet with the parties involved which is very good and speaks very good of him because  you do not make things escalade and that is my point and I requested earlier that I want to be part of that meeting because it concern teachers who are union member.”

But as far as negotiation goes, teachers made it perfectly clear that when it comes to Muschamp, her post is non-negotiable.

Teacher

“Bottom line is that as you can see here, you can zoom, in this formal document we have signatures here of teachers, we have signatures here of auxiliary staff, we have signatures of vendors, we have signatures of parents and as we speak we are going to be collecting more signatures because this thing is affecting everybody, every single body is being affected.  Main objective of what we are asking the government of Belize, everybody that has a say in this institution is that we don’t want the principal in this institution that is the ultimate objective and if we are not being heard we are going to take it as far as possible.”

This afternoon Minister of Education Patrick Faber arrived at the school where he met with teachers first and then with the Principal, Vice Principal and the board of directors to chart a way forward.

CTV3


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