Tensions run high at NIPA, police called in

CAY HILL–Care teacher at National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) Farrah Busby-Richardson was denied access to the school campus Tuesday morning.

The teacher was on her way to administer examinations for 24 students in the Care Programme at the school. She decided not to adhere to the security guard’s warning and still walked to her classroom to administer the exams. Security officers called police for assistance, but officers were told by management not to act against the teacher.

Students and Teacher Richardson contacted The Daily Herald on Tuesday afternoon and gave a detailed account of what had transpired. Richardson said she had handed in her resignation letter to school management on Monday because of lack of communication and dictatorship qualities of the NIPA school board. The resignation letter was dated July 8 as her last day.

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Richardson said she had given in the letter and wanted to make sure that she was present for the exams for the students. “I am the one who gave the lectures and I am making sure that my students do not suffer from any effects of my resignation,” she stated. She was surprised that management had not informed her about not coming to school anymore after she handed in her resignation.

Advanced Vocational Education (AVE) board Chairman Antonio Aventurin and board members Anouska Friday and Aisha James gave their side of the story Tuesday evening. The board accuses Richardson of influencing the students for her benefit. School Interim Director Garfield Sargant said he had been present at the school when the incident with the teacher took place Tuesday morning.

“I was having a meeting concerning our upcoming graduation when I was told that one of our staff members was trying to gain entry to the school. I continued my meeting about the graduation when I was told that police officers were called in.

“I informed my staff to allow the police to come in my office. I called Mr. Aventurin and we informed police that no action should be taken against the teacher because exams were busy taking place. The officers at no time went to the classroom and they left the school,” stated Sargant.

This newspaper asked Aventurin why Richardson was not allowed on school premises and he said a parent had filled a complaint concerning a WhatsApp chat with students and pornographic material shared in the chat. The school is investigating whether Richardson had any involvement with this chat group.

Aventurin added that Richardson has an aggressive personality and to ensure to safety of the staff, the board had decided to put her on inactive duty with pay until the investigation was completed. In the midst of the investigation, Richardson handed in her resignation. Before the board got to discussing this resignation, the decision was made to not allow Richardson back onto the school’s campus.

Aventurin said Richardson had always abused her power as a teacher with influence on students. Students in defence of Richardson recently handed a letter to Aventurin explaining the incident in the group chat. Aventurin said it showed again that Richardson influenced students to write the letter and interfere in their investigation.

Whatsapp Group

In an extensive letter to the board when Richardson was made aware about the complaint filed by the parent, Richardson wrote that “the efforts to divert attention from the real issues are woefully inadequate and unsuccessful.

“The inescapable fact is that you have found, and will find, absolutely nothing to show that I ‘exchanged’ pornographic or sexual material with my students that are the crux and core of your ‘investigation.’ If you cannot prove this decisively and beyond doubt your investigation comes to an abrupt halt. Anything else is merely a red herring and a distraction.

“You attempt to discredit and discount the students’ letter and chat history submitted as part of my ‘defence,’ but with the next breath admit that the facts stated by the students ‘must be made part of the investigation.’ Accordingly, I look forward to your interviews with the students in accordance with your commitment to involve them in this search for the truth.

“One month ago, I was made aware of a complaint a mother made against my students, not my person. Ms. Peterson [the social worker who took the complaint – Ed.] spoke to me a month ago about a complaint against the students and their chat group, to which I responded by stating I have no control over the chat group because they are all adults. Ms. Peterson also told me that the parent stated: ‘Miss Farrah intervened in the chat not once, but twice, and calmed down the debate between the students and myself.’

“With that being said, I see no reason to defend this complaint because from the last conversation with the social worker, the complaint was levied against the students only. I fully support my students’ recollection of the incidents and I confirm the accuracy of their statements. I have nothing further to say pertaining to this matter, and your emails will be automatically disregarded if sent.

“I consider this harassment and a conspiracy, given the fact that the student whose parent filed the complaint confessed in the presence of several students and in the presence of my construction workers that (in her presence) her mother clearly stated to the social worker that the way in which Ms. Farrah handled the debate over the sharing of material was entirely proper and appropriate.

“I am respected by my students and their parents to an optimum level. I am being falsely accused of ‘exchanging’ inappropriate material with them without any shred of evidence being presented or without mention of under which circumstances it was done. The suspicious timing of these accusations and the unseen ‘puppeteers’ behind them will be revealed in due course.

“Once again, I have no intention of going back and forth and engaging in a childish game of musical chairs. This will be my last communication on this matter. Any further emails or communications will be disregarded unless they come from an independent legal source (not the AVE board’s lawyer, who was also on the board) and should be addressed to my attorney Cindy Marica Henderson, located on Long Wall Road #18, Philipsburg (Maynard Building upstairs).”

Communication Issues      

Richardson also told this newspaper the board does not have the students at heart and said she looks out for her students. There is a distinct lack of transparency and organisation in the way certain matters are handled by the school, she said.

“The absence of timely communication is generally eroding morale and motivation. For example: I asked Mr. Sargant to let me know if my services will be needed next semester and if so, what my schedule looked like, in order for me to have a head start in preparing the lectures,” said Richardson.

“Mr. Sargant told me we need to have a conversation first and he gave me a brief glimpse of the preliminary schedule. In addition, my contract ends this week; am I supposed to guess my next working day and show up to work not knowing if my contract was renewed? Everything seems to be top secret where these issues are concerned. I am a very straightforward person and for me transparency is key.

“I came to NIPA to make a positive contribution and I have devoted myself to the success of my students. I have invested extra time and personal financial resources numerous times to ensure this. These students are our future gatekeepers and may hold our lives and that of our loved ones in their hands at some point in the future. Hence, my frustration with the events of this week.

“I would like to urge more teamwork and cooperation to achieve the objective of producing competent and qualified nurses or professionals. In general, that should be the main focus.”

The students were told the exams given by Richardson will be considered void, but the board and school management deny ever having stated this. One parent visited the school on Tuesday and asked whether the exams will be voided and Director Sargant informed the parent that the exam committee had already vetted the exams made by Richardson and sees no reason to void any of those exams.

Bad image

The board believes the bad image portrayed by certain individuals who would like to discredit the school board and management seemed to have poisoned the minds of the students.

“We told students in a lengthy meeting that if they have any issues they can come to the board. We outlined the process for them and to us it was understood,” stated Aventurin. The slogan of NIPA is “NIPA proud” and how is it that students will run to the media every time to solve an issue if they do not send the complaint to the board, he asked.

Board member Friday said students often get emotional based on what their teachers tell them. This can be the only reason why they react the way they do and run to the media, according to Friday.

Board member James still believes in what the school is trying to achieve and said NIPA will continue to grow strong with a number of programmes that will come online next school year. “We are trying to build a strong foundation and institution. We want to move forward with positive growth,” stated James.

Director Sargant encourages all students to come and do their exams, as the reserve teacher will be there to administer the remainder of their exams.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/67394-tensions-run-high-at-nipa-police-called-in

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