“No Kendra no ITSS”

The content originally appeared on: Sun Dominica

On days when Miss G. – a teacher at the Isaiah Thomas Secondary School (ITSS) – felt like throwing in the towel, she immediately went to her Vice Principal Miss Kendra Roberts.

No matter the problem or situation, Robert’s door, and arms were always open to not only the students but her colleagues, the young teacher said. So now, as Roberts is faced with one of the darkest moments of her teaching career, teachers at the ITSS say it’s their turn to be there for her.

Based on the new organizational structure for secondary schools, which took effect at the start of the 2021/2022 school years, the cabinet approved the upgrade of seven positions of principals of secondary schools, as well as the creation of 15 Deputy Principals, 7 Assistant Principals, 87 Heads of Departments, 28 Senior Graduate Teachers, 70 Senior Qualified Teachers, and 16 School Counselors.

As such, the position that Roberts held as VP, was made redundant which meant she had to apply for the role of Deputy Principal, which she did and was interviewed for.

However, last month, news broke that Roberts was not selected for the job, or any other at that which meant that she would return to her previous role as a teacher, which sparked outrage.

Frustrated over what they say is a clear form of victimisation of their colleague, teachers, parents, and both present and past students of the school for the past months have been voicing their disapproval, calling on the ministry of education to rethink their decision.

Having written several letters to the necessary officials including the Prime Minister, only to receive no response, last week, the aggravated teachers, instead of being in the classrooms, sat outside of the schools’ office in hopes of getting their message across.

These actions among the many others they say they intend on carrying out attracted the attention of the police, who were present at the school compound in large numbers.

“This is something that can happen to any of us and if we don’t stand up we’re saying to the ministry that it’s okay to continue with this level of victimization,” one of the teachers told the Sun.

She continued, ” if parents are not for us, students are not for us then we as teachers have to be there for each other, hence the reason we are doing this. It’s a solidarity stance to let the ministry of education know that the years of victimization – I don’t like you here, let me put you there or taking away someone’s post without a reason that has to stop. We are waiting for a response r a meeting to be held and no one is telling us when this can be done.”

Another one of the educators at the school highlighted that under the guidance of Roberts, the school has reported more success stories and failure to have her appointment in the position only does more bad than good.

“We deserve you, Miss Roberts, ITSS deserves you. Our school has been on a winning streak. For years, people have not been hearing anything but positive about our school. Others have met me and commended our progress. We purposed to make it the best. Why fix what is not broken? What has ITSS done to deserve this injustice?” she questioned.

A past student, Tatiana highlighted that Roberts is the “backbone of this institution.”

According to her, the dedication which the veteran teacher has displayed to the western government school is unmeasurable.

Parents such as Monell William- JnoBaptiste, whose two daughters attend the ITSS have also spoken out publicly on the matter, stating that this recent action by the Ministry of education is a reflection of the government’s ability to “kick the hard-working professionals in their faces time and time again

“My cry, my call to every parent is to not send your children to school. I will not be sending my children to school. They will be boycotting schools until the ministry of education responds to the teachers of ITSS and we want no other response than Kendra Roberts is the deputy principal,” she declared.

The recent actions taken by the teachers have been met with mixed reactions as other parents have expressed concerns that the actions being taken by the teachers will only have an impact on the student and their learning.

While the Dominica Teacher Association (DTA) has declined to comment on the matter, General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) Thomas Letang expressed his solidarity with the teachers of the ITSS.

“When an act of injustice and unfairness occurs as is the case of Mrs. Kendra Roberts, the question of individualism should not exist but instead there should be unity among employees in seeking a resolution,” Letang noted.

Attempts have been made to speak to Roberts- who’s presently on leave; the current principal of the ITSS Benedict Charles, officials from the ministry of education including the minister, the permanent secretary, and acting Chief Education Officer, but have all been futile.