To: The Chairman of FAVE Board
May 26, 2018
Reference: Request for a review of Mrs. Nelson's performance as principal of P.S.V.E.
Dear Mr. Duncan,
The situation in 2016-2017 became so tense that the board was called in to mediate between management and staff. It was recommended by Mr. Duncan that we put all of this in writing. Teachers received numerous warning letters for petty issues, targeted for having a difference of opinion than Mrs. Nelson.
We ended last school year (2016-2017) by submitting to Mrs. Nelson for the board, a review of our first year with her. This document was signed by all staff members. This review highlighted serious concerns that members of staff had with her communication skills, vindictiveness, lack of empathy and procedures that did not have the students or teachers best interest at heart.
We started this school year with Mrs. Nelson reading a lengthy reflective speech about her first year in her capacity as Principal at P.S.V.E. She acknowledged that she made many mistakes and promised to change her approach to the management of School. She acknowledged teachers who she didn't acknowledge during the year as having the right perspective. She asked us to give her another chance, as she like everyone else is not perfect.
Mrs. Nelson asked for another chance and for a few months she tried to exercise her version of patience, sought advice and utilized suggestions that were made by members of staff. Then the era of 'peace and love' began. Peace and love was used to shut up members of staff, diminish situations presented and was used as a holy form of expletive. During our School Development Plan workshop in April 2018, where an invited guest was present, this expression of “Peace and Love” was also used by Mrs. Nelson. At that time an invited guest pointed out how negative it came across and it seemed not to be genuine.
We expected vision, structure, transparency, guidance, honesty, effective communication and strong leadership skills. We got pieces of the vision, incompetence, discrimination, hypocrisy, poor structure, deceit, divisiveness and a damaged social environment.
Pieces of the Vision (CCSLC versus PSVE)
1. We were told that the school is going to start with the CCSLC program, but teachers were given inadequate information and were directed by the Public Relation personnel to research information via the internet.
2. Parents received information before the teachers.
3. We were assured that no one should worry about their job security, because everyone would be absorbed into the new system.
4. On May16, 2018 the staff received an email that informed us of a structural change that involved the appointment of two coordinators, who will be taking responsibility for the lower and upper school. The tasks of the Job Training Coordinator/ Counselor have been absorbed by the function of the Coordinator.
5. On May 17, 2018 we learnt that our Job Coordinator's position has become redundant under the new program, even though the P.S.V.E. program will be continued for the coming 3 years, where Job Training is a requirement for completion of the P.S.V.E. program. A staff member who is the current Job coordinator, was informed that her position has become redundant effective school year 2018-2019.
1. Mrs. Nelson kept a teacher on staff for five weeks, during the investigation of his alleged improper conduct, knowing that students could be at risk.
2. Proper scheduling was not done during the ETE Practical and Theoretical exam (April 9th- May 25th 2018), thus numerous classes were without instruction during that period. Before the ETE Theoretical exams a meeting was held and teachers brought forward the fact that the students would be missing many classes, yet the invigilators exam time table remained the same. As a result the students have not received classes for the majority of term 3, but are expected to do the School Based Exams, which will start on June 15th, 2018.
3. Based on hurricane Irma, the ministry granted some adjustments in regards to the ETE exams. The starting time was 30 minutes later, to give students time to eat (start time was at 8 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m.). In Addition to that the students received an additional 30 minutes at the end of the exam time. However, this vital information was only communicated the day before and the day of the first ETE exam to the invigilators and on the first day of the ETE exams to the students.
4. The Principal of the Academic Section sent an email with the time table of the CXC exams in advance to Mrs. Nelson, requesting rooms for the CXC students, which were to be administered at the P.S.V.E. campus. Room 111 is the designated Visual Arts room. On May 15th, 2018 the ETE Math exam started at 8 a.m. and at 8:30 a.m. the Visual Arts CXC teachers and head of Examinations realized that room 111 was in use and therefor had to remove all the Visual Arts materials to a different room. This took quite some time and also caused a disruption for the ETE Math exam students.
5. A pilot group was chosen in Form Two to do the CCCLC program (Mathematics and English), but Mrs. Nelson cannot definitively explain how the students in this pilot group will be placed in third form since language choices need to be made. In addition to this, the streaming of students (P-Stream/ B-Stream) has to be taken into consideration as well.
1. Harassment of some Guyanese teachers and labels them as 'the problem in the school', which was admitted by her in a staff meeting. The same statement was repeated to the Human Resource Manager in the presence of students and staff members on May 22, 2018 on the school compound when she could not locate a Guyanese teacher.
2. Selected teachers are allowed to come to school late in order to drop off their children in the mornings, while others cannot.
3. Teachers are placed on substitution duty in an ad-hoc manner that overuse targeted teachers.
4. When teachers are gathered, only selected teachers are asked if they have a class, while the others receive warm smiles and greetings.
1. Complimented a staff member on her performance, then recommended her termination.
2. When teachers punch in late they receive a letter, however Mrs. Nelson is late at times as well.
1. Positions are created and terminated at her whim.
2. Reshuffled teachers in order to make other positions redundant.
3. Existing year coordinators were not informed that they were relieved of their duties for the school year 2017-2018.
1. Constantly lying.
2. Met with the staff for over two hours on May 18, 2018 where she was asked who else would be losing their job and she acknowledged two persons. The first sentence out of her mouth indicated that two members of staff would not be returning. However, before the end of the day, another teacher received her termination letter.
1. Students inform teachers of important changes, even when persons are terminated.
2. Outside persons also offer their sympathy and support when we ourselves do not know what has happened in our school.
3. Parents receive documentation of dates and plans before teachers do.
4. Emails contain expired and incomplete details.
5. Written Warnings are given without having first given a verbal warning.
6. Year coordinators met in 2016-2017 to determine the cutoff for each academic award (honor roll). Mrs. Nelson agreed to the criteria, but totally changed the criteria the next day without consulting those involved.
7. Recommendations for termination are given without due process.
1. Newly created or available positions are not advertised to staff to allow interested persons to apply.
2. The two new coordinator posts were not presented as part of the new-structure.
3. Personnel was used in a sensitive student-based situation where Student Care was not adequately informed about the location and time of said meeting and principal was aware.
1. Some accomplishments of teachers are celebrated more than others.
2. Biggest critics are given positions.
3. “Parking and stopping”( teachers talking to each other) is not encouraged
4. Management is divided: some are aware of major decisions while others are not and some opinions count more than others.
Damaged Social environment.
1.Teachers are demotivated.
2. Mrs. Nelson was very rude to some presenters at the School Development Plan sessions, although she reflected and apologized, respect should always be mutual.
3. She is very confrontational and selectively compassionate.
4. Poor cooperation with sister school, limited sharing of staff and attempts of socializing.
5. Poor leadership and interpersonal skills.
As we bring this school year to a close, we sincerely request that you hear our concerns, investigate objectively what we have been experiencing and place Mrs. Nelson in another position and appoint a principal with more educational leadership and interpersonal skills. We have lost confidence in her. Mrs. Nelson uses scare tactics rather than tested effective leadership skills that will motivate this vibrant and dynamic staff with hundreds of combined years of teaching experience. This is a very hardworking group of teachers, who are capable of taking P.S.V.E. into the future with positive leadership and guidance.
We are recommending that FAVE board facilitates an evaluation of Mrs. Nelson by every staff member. In addition to our recommendation we would like a response on the evaluation process on or before Friday Jun8, 2018.
Staff of St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E.
The deadline of June 8, 2018 has passed however, the staff have not heard from the school board about their grievances. This shows lack of respect towards the staff at the St Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. Since the school board received this letter, harassment, victimization and discrimination have become rampant at the school.
Gregory Van Heke