By Monique Washington
A parent of a nine year old child says she is distraught and heartbroken after her son was abruptly disenrolled from school without warning.
Cindy Maloney whose son was attending the Maude Crosse Preparatory school was handed a letter on Dec. 19 stating her son had been disenrolled as of Dec. 9. Maloney explained that in 2014 the Maude Crosse Preparatory school went on a scholarship drive. The school opted to offer half scholarships to students.
“I decided to transfer my son from the school he was attending on the premise that he gets the scholarship from grade 1 to grade six. I also asked for it in writing” she said.
The Observer obtained the scholarship letter which states “The scholarship entails you to pay $600 per term in school fees for the entire duration of your child stay at the Maude Crosse preparatory school from grade one to grade six if you so desire.” The letter was signed by then chairman of board Leon Lescott. The Observer contacted Lescott who confirmed that the letter was issued to Maloney and that he did sign it.
Mrs. Maloney said in April a new board at the school held a PTA meeting where it was announced that all scholarships will be revoked as there was nothing on file. She noted that the school asked for parents to re-apply but she did not.
“I visited Conrad Smithen (Chairman of Board) the same day at his work place and told him the way the board treated the parents whose children had attained a half scholarship was not nice. I said to him that a meeting should have been held with the parents to discuss the matter and to find out under what conditions their children were brought to the school. I also told him that I will not reapply for something that I already have,” she said.
She said she requested a meeting with the board in trying to correct the situation but a meeting never came to fruition. She noted that on September 13 after school reopened the principal of the school told her that her scholarship was not valid. This led to her contacting Smithen again in trying to get him to call a meeting with her and the board to resolve the matter.
“On Nov. 8 the principal gave me a letter indicating that my son will not be allowed to attend school on the 7th of November if the rest of the school fee was not paid. The letters said to contact the signee or any other board members. The letter was signed by Hazel Manners David,” she said.
Maloney states that when she contacted Manners, she was told her that her son had already been dis-enrolled for September and that the she will let Conrad call her, a call she has never received. Shortly after, Maloney states that she sought legal counsel who sent a letter to the school requesting a meeting to have matters resolved.
“The board asked us to attend a meeting on Dec. 6 but the chairperson alone showed up. Another meeting was rescheduled.
“My lawyer and I were asked by a board member to attend a meeting on Dec. 19 . We showed up believing all of the board will be there. We were also hoping for a discussion. My lawyer was asked to speak and state her position. After speaking I was handed a letter stating my son was disenrolled . My son was disenrolled without a proper meeting. I was not allowed to be heard. The decision was arbitrary and unilateral, cold and cruel,” the mother states.
The disenrollment letter states in part “..Consequent to your displeasure with the above announcement. You made several remarks of member of the board to other members of the Board and others, and proceeded to obtain the schools official letter head to prepare a letter purporting to be issued from the previous Board regarding the said matter. This action was calculated, deceptive and grossly improper, and the improbity of which the board refuses to countenance.”
Maloney said that the allegations are wrong and untrue. Maloney noted that the situation has left her son traumatized and will eventually need counseling.
“There is a fear that he will banned from his present school. He keeps wondering what he did at the Maude Crosse School,” she said.
Maloney says that she feels the whole thing is a personal vendetta towards her.
“I stood up for my rights. Obviously I was not supposed to say anything. I am out there encouraging the empowerment of community members and now because I stood firm my son was ruthlessly thrown out of a school in the middle of the school year without any consideration. The action was insensitive, harsh and inconsiderate. Some of the board members are also parents,” she concluded.
The Observer contacted Jackie Hunkins Taylor head of PTS and Board member of the Maude Crosse School who explained why the scholarship had to be revoked.
“When the new board came in May (2016), we found certain things not right in the school, a lot of things were constitutional wise, the makeup of the school. The new board started a reinstatement process,” she said.
Continuing she noted that “In respect to financing the school was in dire strays with funds. 25 percent of the student body was on scholarship. When we looked at it and then the teachers were making demands. The board inherited a situation where the teachers said enough is enough we want better salaries, we want health insurance. We set about in trying to correct issues. One of which was, what we said to the parents with respect to the scholarship we said we have to bring all scholarships to an end at the end of the term July 2016. We are not going to end the scholarship program we are going to put in place a scholarship program for the new school year 2016-2017. We gave every parent a scholarship application form in July and said please feel free to re-apply because what we are going to do is establish a scholarship fund and we are going to the private sector to contribute into the funds. We are still collecting monies in the funds. Didn’t have enough to offer students this school term,” she said.
She said that she spoke to Maloney and encouraged her to reapply for the scholarship
“Instead of her reapplying she refused to reapply, she go and bring this letter that was fraudulently drafted.”
Hunkins Taylor explained that the letter brought to the board had a letter head that was released last year while Maloney’s letter was dated December 2014.
She said that Maloney’s behavior was not nice has she approached a number of board members on their jobs.
She reminded that the school is a private school that has been in existence for 40 years and it need to be upgraded and renovated. Because of this the school relies on the school fees to be paid so the school can be maintained.
“It is a private school just like a business. You can terminate, you can suspend, you can expel. She took the matter to the Premier’s Ministry but we are a private school and with private schools we have rules and we have regulations. We do not entertain bad children, we do not entertain bad parents and we do not entertain bad teachers. If we do, we do not have a school. So the board has that discretion,” she said.
Hunkins- Taylor said that thus far they have had no problem with any other parent whose child received a scholarship in 2014.
“None of the scholarship children have left, all of the parents are still in the school and still hoping they can get the relief in the term,” she said.