July 1, 2002 – A Government House release put out Monday states that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull sent a letter of intent to the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools on Friday committing his office to work with the Education Department in addressing a series of "corrective action steps" toward getting new accreditation for three high schools.
In the brief three-paragraph letter, sent to Mary Ann Keeley, Middle States associate director, Turnbull said his correspondence "represents the intent of the Office of the Governor to actively participate in and support efforts of the Department of Education and the public high schools to take the steps delineated in the two-page document entitled 'Corrective Action Steps' as we continue working collectively towards regaining accreditation."
Further, he said, "The government of the Virgin Islands supports the commitments outlined in the Department of Education's Letter of Intent to fully address the corrective action steps shared and discussed" at a June 18 meeting on St. Thomas of Middle States representatives, including Keeley, and V.I. officials.
"We look forward to a successful collaboration among the stakeholders in regaining accreditation for the Virgin Islands public high schools," Turnbull added.
A copy of the Education Department letter was not made public.
Last Wednesday, Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, who chairs the Legislature's Education Committee, had written to Turnbull pointing out that the corrective action steps timeline set June 30 — Sunday — as the deadline for the territory to submit a letter of intent stating officials' commitment to implement the action steps. (See "Reaccreditation 'letter of intent' due Sunday".)
According to the action steps, the letter was to be signed "by the governor, Legislature, the acting commissioner of Education and the principals" of the affected schools. It was not clear whether the principals along with the acting commissioner had signed the separate Education letter cited by the governor. Nor was there any indication of a Senate representative having signed it.
Middle States notified the Virgin Islands last November that it was withdrawing its accreditation of the territory's three accredited public high schools — Central, Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean — effective Dec. 31. The action came following years of repeated warnings from the association that the schools were deficient in a number of areas. The Education Department appealed the decision, and on April 30 Middle States announced that it had rejected the appeal.
According to Middle States officials, the reaccreditation process will require a minimum of two years, if the corrective action steps are taken on schedule. That would mean the schools could not again be accredited before the 2004-05 school year.
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