School padlock sends a message

Students and parents at East End Primary School on Grand Cayman arrived for classes Tuesday to find that the gates to the school had been padlocked.

The Department of Education Services and Ministry of Education were notified and the lock was removed and access granted shortly thereafter, according to a government statement on the matter issued Tuesday afternoon. In addition, it was discovered that the entry to a classroom had been damaged.

According to school parents who spoke to the Caymanian Compass, the acts appeared to be in protest against a current staff vacancy within the school.  

At the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, two members of East End Primary School received promotions. One of those promoted was the former Year 5 teacher at EE Primary who was promoted to the post of Literacy Coach. This resulted in an opening in the teaching staff at the primary school, according to the ministry.

Although a well-qualified Year 5 teacher was recruited and arrived in Grand Cayman prior to start of the school year, government officials said the person appointed for the job left the island for reasons beyond their control.

The Department of Education Services and the Ministry of Education expect to have a Year 5 teacher assigned to East End Primary School “in due course.” In the interim the Department of Education Services provided East End Primary School with a supply teacher to ensure that students’ academic needs are met, officials said. However, in this case the school principal chose to provide coverage for the Year 5 class from the existing staff.   

This Ministry confirmed that a few staff vacancies remain across the public schools system at the start of this year and said it was not naïve in thinking that staffing challenges won’t impact and influence its work.

“For us, education is a partnership that we engage in with students, parents, and members of the greater community,” said Education Minister Tara Rivers.

The Minister expressed her concerns regarding the choice of actions taken. “We are committed to ensuring quality education for our students and we always applaud parental involvement in this process. However, we seriously discourage members of the public from locking up schools in an effort to communicate with the education system.”

Please see the full story on this incident in upcoming editions of the Caymanian Compass…