St. Ignatius’ new principal Martin Nugent will not be returning for the upcoming term, administrators at the $12,000-a-year private school have confirmed.

The veteran British educator was announced as head of the Catholic school in March, in the aftermath of an inspection report that had criticised leadership and governance at the school.

He arrived on island prior to the end of the last school year.

The Cayman Compass understands that a complaint was filed by staff about his behaviour and that it has been investigated. But it is not clear if this is linked to his departure and officials declined to comment on the details.

An archdiocese spokeswoman said, “I can confirm that Mr. Nugent will not be returning to St. Ignatius School this upcoming school year. It is the policy of the Archdiocese and our parishes that we are unable to discuss personnel matters, so I am unable to provide further detail.”

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A letter to parents from parish administrator Father Naveen D’Souza was similarly vague.

“While the school is prepared for the new academic year with a full complement of faculty and staff, I regret to advise that the Principal, Mr. Martin Nugent, will not be returning at the beginning of the new school year,” he wrote as part of a general update to parents.

“We have already begun the recruitment process and advertisements have been placed both locally and overseas. In the interim, the Vice Principal, Secondary and Vice Principal, Primary will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the School.”

Further woes for St. Ignatius

It is the second academic year in succession that has begun with a departure at the top of the school. 

Former head Emily Alexander resigned in August 2020 after a year in the post, leaving staff “shocked and disappointed”, according to a statement read at a meeting with parents and reported on the Cayman Current news site.

In October of the same year, it was revealed that seven members of staff had resigned. At least two donors had requested refunds following questions over the institution’s financial records.

An inspection report in December last year downgraded the school’s rating to ‘satisfactory’ – the third lowest of four performance categories.

The inspectors cited poor leadership, stating, “There were weaknesses in governance which did not follow the requirements of best practice, and decision-making arrangements were not fit for purpose. A significant number of parents who wished to support the school felt unhappy with important aspects of St. Ignatius.”

“Staff were also unhappy and the lack of effective governance was destabilising the school’s operation and continuing effectiveness. The high turnover of staff risked compromising the maintenance of high-quality teaching and learning.”

Additional reporting by Caroline James.

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