July 25, 2002 – With new accreditation for three of the territory's public high schools hanging in the balance, acting Education Commissioner Noreen Michael has not submitted progress reports to the Legislature that were due on June 30.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed into law last December legislation creating the V.I. Public High School Site-Based Management Fund and setting forth the development, adoption and implementation of site-based management policies. The Legislature amended the measure in February to require timely reporting to the 24th Legislature on the status of the policies.
Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, Education Committee chair, said this week that he has not received the reports on site-based management, or on the development of policies for a reliable substitute teacher pool. These were two critical issues which caused the territory to lose accreditation of three of its four public high schools late last year.
Jn Baptiste told Michael in a letter this week,"Commissioner, as you are aware, issues relative to the implementation of site-based management and a substitute teacher pool remain critical to the re accreditation of the territory's three non-accredited public high schools, and, as such, should be given the utmost priority." The fourth high school also is not accredited, but never has been.
In a separate matter, Michael went to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to complete the territory's draft compliance agreement with the U.S. Department of Education that is intended to ensure that the Virgin Islands does not lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal school funds.
Along with the department's legal counsel, Tregenza Roach, and its federal grants and audit director, Dwight Simmonds, Michael was to meet with Phil Maestri, U.S. Department of Education chief financial officer, to complete the draft of the agreement that will be presented to the "core Virgin Islands team" for review.
Michael was expected back in the territory on July 15, her office said at the time, and it was anticipated she might make a public report on the meeting. On Thursday, a member of her staff said she would be holding a "media conference" to answer questions on the matters..
Jn Baptiste, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, will likely bring the issues up on Friday, when Michael is scheduled to appear before the panel to discuss her department's Fiscal Year 2003 budget.
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