By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
EDUCATION director Lionel Sands yesterday dismissed claims that officials had threatened a government enforced shut-down of the Staniard Creek Primary School after parents kept their children home for two days.
Parents in North Andros, The Tribune understands, did not send their children to school in protest of a teacher shortage.
The parents were reportedly later told to either return their children to the classroom or face the facility being closed – forcing students to be bused to a school in Fresh Creek.
However, Mr Sands said these claims were untrue. Calls were made to Mr Sands after Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald could not be reached by email or telephone.
His secretary later confirmed that he was on government business in Grand Bahama.
Mr Sands said: “Those claims are false. The Staniard Creek Primary School needed one teacher who has been identified and will be there shortly. We are still awaiting clearance from the Department of Public Service who hires all of our teachers. That clearance should come in by next weekend.”
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said it was working feverishly to resolve the issue of teacher shortages, not only in Andros, but also at the Inagua All Age School.
The statement said teachers had been identified for both schools and should be in place shortly.
It said: “The ministry wishes the public to know that when vacancies occur, a process must take place which includes identifying candidates and vetting them to ensure their sustainability.
“This is necessary to ensure that these individuals have the required qualifications and police clearance prior to their appointment. After these steps are taken, the individuals must receive their letters of appointment.
“In the case of the Inagua All-Age School, the two specialist teachers required (a language arts teacher and a science teacher) reported for duty (Tuesday) morning.
“The teacher for Staniard Creek Primary has been identified and parents advised of the fact and the process involved. The Ministry is satisfied that adequate supervision is being provided by the principle and the teacher at the school for the 30 plus students.”
The Ministry asked for the co-operation and understanding of all parents as it works to resolve these matters.
Education officials appealed to parents to return their children to schools, “where teaching is taking place”.