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Education Board Certifies 70 Teachers; Subpoenas Commissioner Michael to Testify

June 4, 2006 — The wait is over for 70 teachers whose certifications have been pending before the Board of Education. In a regular meeting held Saturday morning at the Educational Curriculum Center in Kingshill, the board voted to award teaching certificates to 43 teachers in the St. Thomas-St. John district and 27 teachers in the St. Croix district.
The certification put the teachers into compliance with the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act.
In other action, the board voted to subpoena Education Commissioner Noreen Michael to the next scheduled board meeting to answer questions on school security.
Board members said they have repeatedly asked Michael to present a report on security issues at certain schools. Members were annoyed that Michael did not send a representative or forward the plan to the meeting.
Michael sent word to the board that she could not attend the meeting due to illness.
Board Chair Judy Gomez said the board asked Michael for the information at the March 23 meeting.
"We asked the commissioner in writing to respond to these issues. And now the commissioner is unable to appear, and we have no response," said board member Terrance Joseph. "That is unacceptable."
Members also discussed the possibility of mandating that the commissioner or the insular superintendent of schools attend all regularly scheduled board meetings.
"The law requires the commissioner to report to this board, and the law requires the board to make recommendations to the Legislature," said board member Debra Wattlington.
The board also continued making headway into collections of overdue education loans. They said collections are up 8 per cent over last year and announced payments can now be made electronically through Banco Popular.
The board reported that two vehicles have been seized for nonpayment of delinquent loans, and 62 delinquent loans have been forwarded to small claims court and wage garnishment. Gomez commended the staff for its "innovative and creative methods" of collections.
Board member Shaun Gibson noted that the school facilities report would be ready for review by the executive committee on June 12. All but one school has been visited and evaluated, said Gibson.
Last year's report was "basically ignored," said Gibson, adding, "We are going to word our letter strongly." By law, the report has to be forwarded to the governor and the DOE by June 15. The report evaluates and makes recommendations for changes in the schools.
Present at the meeting were board members Gomez, Gibson, Joseph, Wattlington, Jorge Galiber, Keith Richards and Osmond Sewer. Nadie Sekou was absent.
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