The Ministry of Education has stepped in to accommodate dozens of preschoolers who were evicted from their classroom on Pine Street. Earlier this week we told you of the seventy-five preschoolers who are now forced to stay home after the unlicensed teachers who claim ownership of the school were caught operating without licenses and as a result, they locked the gates of the school, preventing classes to continue. It is a complicated story that has to do with the so-called owners of the school not having a valid teacher license and a matter of ownership of the building. There was a meeting yesterday with the parents at Gateway Centre. Love News spoke with one of them as they exited the meeting.
Parent: “It was really surprising to know the kindergarten had the door locked up and had the kids out of school when its’ the foundation of schooling you know. So it was surprising to me. We had a meeting this afternoon to try to see how to get the things corrected and they said they would try to get a building so that all the kids could stay together which will take a process. That is still too long. How will the Ministry of Education and those people that have a lot of money come and say ‘hear what, Pine Street Preschool is for the kids them we will get a building quick.’ but they’ll have us wait until January. I don’t know what will happen in January, maybe when January comes they will say February, March, so we don’t know; we’re relying on what they’re telling us which is January. I want my son back in school that’s all.”
Love News also spoke with Chief Education Officer, DR Babb who clarified the situation for us earlier today and explained how they are moving forward.
Dr.Carol Babb, Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education: “In the case of Pine Street school the teachers there do not possess a valid license. They claim that they are the proprietors of the school. In order to operate a school you must have a license. Two, if a teacher wants to teach that teacher must possess a valid license; those teachers do not possess a valid license. Education is not static, the Ministry of Education is emphasizing that all teachers who teach children must have some form of certification, whether it’s an associates degree, a bachelor’s degree or a masters degree. All teachers initially are given five years, we give them a license called a provisional license that affords you the time to qualify yourself. Recently the Minister established a new license called a special permit and what we did at that time all early childhood teachers across the country were given this special permit, given extra time, they were given three years to qualify themselves. “
Renee Trujillo, Love FM News: And you’re saying none of the teachers at that preschool had done so?
Dr.Carol Babb, Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education: “They are not qualified, they do not have the required certification to teach. We are not concerned so much about who owns the school, if they claim they are the owners we need to do our investigation but we as the Ministry of Education we need to ensure that all teachers who teach our children have the proper certification to deliver the curriculum.”
Renee Trujillo, Love FM News: So why were the children sent home then?
Dr.Carol Babb, Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education: “That was another issue. I was told, I wasn’t there, that the two persons who claim proprietorship two teachers you mentioned they locked the gates because they say they own the school and so they don’t want the teachers who are qualified to enter nor the children. So what we will do we will find a new location for the children so that the teachers who are qualified can teach the children. We had a meeting yesterday with the parents, about forty parents came to the meeting and the parents are very happy to relocate to a nearby place that we have identified. The parents understand that all teachers must have a valid license to teach and generally about forty parents I understand attended and they are in favor of relocating their children so we will try to make that happen by Monday.”
Upon hearing Dr Babb’s interview in our midday news, one of the teachers in question, Felicia Anthony came to our studio to give her side of the story.
Felicia Anthony, Teacher, Pine Street Preschool: “I got a license to the 18th of April 2021 but so they said that it was revoked but I haven’t gotten a letter as yet from the head of education that my letter was revoked, that is the problem. She said yes the teachers there but the teachers, me and the other teacher, we were not qualified. Yes we don’t have no associates but we are teaching there for thirty five years, experience beats anything else. 25th of August the general manager for them came and told us that my one was revoked, we are waiting for the letter that this license was revoked this 2021 license was revoked. All we are waiting for is just a letter stating that mine was revoked and hers was terminated.”
Courtney Menzies, Love FM News: So what was the reason for not allowing the people into the school?
Felicia Anthony, Teacher, Pine Street Preschool: “Because the teachers said, we said that the 22nd we’ll close the place, the 22nd of this month.”
Reporter: You guys already gave them the notice?
Felicia Anthony, Teacher, Pine Street Preschool: “Yes. The other teacher told the new principal – when they had a meeting with some parents she told them “the 22nd you need to leave the place because it will close down.””
Courtney Menzies, Love FM News: So basically the principal did not make the necessary arrangements for an easier transition for the students.
Felicia Anthony, Teacher, Pine Street Preschool: “Yes.”
Courtney Menzies, Love FM News: Is there any reason why you guys decided to close the place ?
Felicia Anthony, Teacher, Pine Street Preschool: “Disrespect. They changed the day because when she sends out note “Pine Street Government School” and the real name is “Pine Street Community Pre School”
Courtney Menzies, Love FM News: Out of everybody it’s the children that are affected the most.
Felicia Anthony, Teacher, Pine Street Preschool: “Yes we know that. We know that and we’re sorry about that part but it’s the teachers.”
Courtney Menzies, Love FM News: So this boils down to, if the principal had been more respectful of you the school would have still been there?
Felicia Anthony, Teacher, Pine Street Preschool: “Yes. Yes, yes, yes definitely.”
The students are expected to be relocated by Monday, December 2, 2019.