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Gov gets petition to stop “combined” high school graduation

About 2,000 signatures are on a petition presented to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga opposing the proposed plan by the Department of Education to hold a one-day combined graduation for all public high schools on Tutuila, says Lima Fiatoa, who spearheaded the online petition more than a week ago.  She is the parent of a high school senior.


The governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, who received the petition last Friday, will present it to Lolo for his review.


Fiatoa launched the online petition Jan. 16 after the DOE director revealed to the local news media her tentative plan for the one-day combined graduation. Others, who supported Fiatoa’s cause, stepped in to help with the distribution of paper petitions to gather many signatures calling on the governor to maintain the status quo on high school graduation.


Fiatoa said late Friday afternoon in an email letter to supporters that she submitted the petition earlier in the day to the governor’s office, but unfortunately, Lolo was not in, but she was able to sit down and talk with Iulogologo, who “was really nice about it and heard us out.” 


“I explained that we understood that the Governor has not made a decision yet regarding the proposal, but to look at the petition as ‘providing an organized record, that would best reflect the thoughts and feelings of the people this decision will directly affect’,” she recalled what she told Iulogologo.


“I asked if he [Iulogologo] could please discuss our visit with Governor and I gave him the original petition which included all the signatures as well as a copy of the entire package,” she said and thanked everyone for their support.


Asked to comment on what he discussed with Fiatoa, Iulogologo said there was “very little exchange” in the meeting and that Fiatoa wanted to hand deliver the petition to the governor.


“I thanked her for bringing the petition and I informed her that I will give the petition to the Governor for his review and decision,” Iulogologo told Samoa News. “She just said that she wanted to provide a documented position of the community on the recommendation by the Director of DOE to hold just one graduation.”


Iulogologo had said that the governor has not made a decision on the proposal and Lolo is awaiting the return on island of the DOE director, Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau, from an off island business meeting for further discussions on this matter.


Vaitinasa was in Apia last week in a teacher recruiting drive, which has been described by Samoa’s Minister of Education during a Parliamentary session as American Samoa “stealing” teachers from its neighbor. (See last Friday’s edition for more details about the DOE hoping to recruit teachers from Samoa)