Update: The Archdiocese of Detroit has said Father Naveen D’Souza, administrator of St. Ignatius Parish and School, is preparing to submit the annual financial returns in accordance with the non-compliance notice issued to the local church and school.
St. Ignatius Catholic School and Church, which are registered as single non-profit entity, had been served with a notice of non-compliance from the non-profit organisations’ registrar, who was seeking the production of financial records for review.
The notice was issued on 17 Sept. by the General Registry’s Head of Compliance Paul Inniss, who gave St. Ignatius 14 days to comply in order to avoid sanctions.
The Archdiocese of Detroit, which oversees St. Ignatius, issued a statement to the Cayman Compass Friday addressing the notice and complaints from parents.
The parents have complained of a lack of transparency in the handling of school affairs, and have raised concerns over recent administrative changes to the organisational structure at the Walkers Road school.
The Archdiocese of Detroit, in its statement, said it “is aware of and sensitive to concerns shared by some parents in the St. Ignatius community”.
“We are working closely with Father D’Souza, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Arturo Cepeda, and the Department of Catholic Schools to address and resolve these concerns. The school recently opened its doors so Father D’Souza could solicit input from the community, Bishop Cepeda recently wrote a letter pledging his support, and Father D’Souza will continue to update the community going forward,” the statement said.
The Archdiocese said in the coming weeks it will continue to work closely with St. Ignatius “to develop, share, and implement a transition plan that promotes the best interests of the students, faculty, and staff”.
“Taking to heart the words of Blessed Solanus Casey, we thank God ahead of time for the community’s dedication to the school and its commitment to nurturing the spiritual, academic, social, and personal development of the students,” it added.
Original story: St. Ignatius Catholic School and Church have been served with a notice of non-compliance from the non-profit organisations’ registrar, who is seeking the production of financial records for review.
The notice, issued on 17 Sept. by the General Registry’s Head of Compliance Paul Inniss, gives St. Ignatius 14 days to comply in order to avoid sanctions.
Inniss declined to confirm or deny if an investigation was being carried out into the school’s and church’s financial operations, telling the Cayman Compass via email, “The Registrar is unable to comment on any investigation it is undertaking.”
St. Ignatius has been registered since 2018 as an non-profit organisation and is listed as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Cayman Islands under the category of ‘Religious and Educational Organisation’, Inniss told the Compass.
He indicated that both the school and church are registered together as one entity.
A number of other issues regarding the school have arisen recently. They include the resignation of principal Emily Alexander and the abolition of the School Advisory Board, which has since been replaced by a School Advisory Committee.
This week, parents launched an online petition calling for more transparency at the school.
That petition, which by Thursday afternoon had more than 330 signatures, will be delivered to the Archdiocese of Detroit, which oversees the operations of the church and school.
The Compass reached out to the Archdiocese late Wednesday for comment on the non-compliance notice and was advised that a statement would be issued.
“The Archdiocese of Detroit is working closely with St. Ignatius Parish and School and looks forward to assisting you with your story. As your inquiry involves legal matters relating to the Cayman Islands, it is to be expected that we would need time to properly develop a response. We will respond fully as soon as possible,” the Archdiocese said on Thursday via email.
NPO legal obligations
The Compass has obtained a copy of the NPO registrar’s notice issued to St. Ignatius administrators, which points to their continuing failure to adhere to the provisions of the NPO Law.
“As per section 15 of the NPO Law, all NPOs are required to file an annual return with the Registrar within six months after the end of the entity’s financial year. There has been no submission of an annual return from your NPO since registration,” the notice stated.
It also advised that “controllers can be personally sanctioned for non-compliance with section 15 of the NPO Law”.
Under the law, Inniss said, NPOs are required to be registered and submit annual returns and, where applicable, reviews of financial statements.
The law also requires NPOs to provide information and access to records to the registrar when being subjected to an inspection.
Inniss explained that the penalty for not submitting an annual return is $3,000, with an additional $100 a day fine for each day that the entity fails to comply with this requirement.
Another area flagged in the non-compliance notice to the school was the non-notification of administrative changes.
Under the NPO Law and regulations, NPOs are required to file with the registrar of NPOs notification of changes within 30 days of the changes taking place, the notice said.
“We understand there have been changes to the management structure of the NPO, kindly provide these changes along with the supporting information,” the notice stated.
Those changes include the resignation of Alexander, who is set to leave on 11 Nov., the dissolution of the School Advisory Board and the creation of a new School Advisory Committee, which was announced by the administrator of St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Father Naveen D’Souza.
The non-compliance notice also advised that the registrar is authorised to conduct inspections of NPOs to ensure prudent best practices.
“In keeping with this authorization, we are requesting from the entity the following documents/information: Copies of bylaws that relates to the governance structure of the NPO to include the PTA and roles and responsibilities of the various committees and committee members,” the notice to St. Ignatius administrators stated.
Concerns voiced at meeting
Parents raised their concerns about the changes at the school at a meeting on 14 Sept., which was attended by more than 200 parents.
In response to parents’ questions, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Reverend Arturo Cepeda wrote a letter dated 21 Sept. assuring them that their concerns about the administration of the school have been heard and a transition plan for the leadership of the school had been “carefully developed with the support of the Archdiocese of Detroit”.
In the petition, the parents, who have formed a Home School Association Parents’ Governance and Transparency Sub-Committee to communicate with the Archdiocese, registered their concerns over the resignation of Alexander, the dissolution of the School Advisory Board and the creation of a School Advisory Committee in its stead.
The Ministry of Education’s involvement with private schools, such as St. Ignatius, is limited in scope.
The ministry confirmed to the Compass that it had oversight “of health, safety and education provision at schools. While the Ministry does not have financial oversight, if a school receives funding from the Cayman Islands Government, then the Ministry has in the past requested to see financial records from the relevant schools to ensure the Government’s money is being used as intended and accounted for in the school’s financials.”
Given the status of St Ignatius as a registered NPO, the ministry pointed out there are legislative mechanisms in place for oversight.
“Through the Registration of Schools, the Ministry and Education Council also expect and check that schools adhere to other relevant legislation, such as Immigration, Health and Pension, etc. For those schools that are registered Non-Profit Organisations, the Non-Profit Organisations Legislation will apply to a school’s financials,” the statement said.