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Dellwood parents reveal grave fears

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Meeting with parents: Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Parents at Dellwood Middle School have raised “grave fears” about staff and scheduling problems and the impact on pupils. However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the school had “surplus staff”. The school’s PTA executive said that there was a “lack of communication between the various administrative layers within our public school system that hinders a productive teaching environment for our children”. It added that executive members had met Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, Tina Duke, the school’s principal, Dellwood teachers, and Department of Education representatives in response to the events.The statement said: “We have voiced our grave fears over scheduling and related manpower issues and their impact on student learning, with the principal and, most recently, the staff. “We share many of the same concerns.”Pupils at the Pembroke school were dismissed shortly after 2pm on Monday after teachers took industrial action.A spokesman for the Bermuda Union of Teachers said that the action was triggered by the “sudden termination” of two long-term substitute teachers. A spokeswoman for the education ministry confirmed that action “short of a strike ... led to the interruption of classroom instruction and early dismissal of students from the school”.She added that the Department of Education had reached out to the BUT and the Department of Labour Relations in an attempt to “bring an immediate resolution to the action taken by teachers”. The PTA executive said that it took “a degree of comfort” in Mr Rabain’s immediate response to Monday’s events, “in particular the hand of conciliation extended by the minister to bring resolution to this matter, at least until the school year has ended”. The group added that it had seen the release issued by the BUT and that it respected the union’s right to “protect its members”.It added: “For clarity, it is necessary to state, as parents, our common interest in this matter is to support the teachers in ensuring the scheduling and related human resources are congruent for the remainder of the school year.“We strongly believe the issue warrants working with the minister, department, the commissioner, principal and teaching body in good faith in the days ahead. “We therefore look forward to working with these parties towards immediate resolution to these concerns so that our children can return to the best teaching environment that can be provided, given the circumstances.” The PTA executive said that an impasse would not solve the problem and asked all involved to resolve the issues “as soon as possible in the best interest of our students”.Questions sent to Ms Duke were not answered by press time yesterday. A Department of Education spokeswoman said that children “must come first and be at the heart of all adult decisions”. She added: “Dellwood school is adequately staffed and the principal and the scheduling team at Dellwood are working on the master schedule with the aim of making necessary adjustments based on what is best for children.” The spokeswoman said that Dellwood, in fact, had “surplus staff”. She explained: “This is due to the fact that the department wanted to ensure that TN Tatem teachers were employed for September 2019.” On the issue of the PTA executive’s concern about the impact on pupils, the spokeswoman added: “The department has received no data or evidence from the school about this, prior to yesterday.” • To view the Dellwood PTA’s statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

Out of school: Dellwood Middle School students were sent home early on Monday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)