Fono News

SANITOA CALLS FOR HEARING AFTER SPED PARENTS FILE COMPLAINTS

 

Tualauta faipule is calling on the House Education Committee, to hold a hearing into the issues occurring within Special Education (SPED), where allegedly families are not getting the proper help and support for these children as required by law, some parents have taken the next step by filing their complaints directly with the US Department of Education, because they are unable to get any help or satisfactory results from our local responsible agencies.

 

Sanitoa pointed out that in the federal government’s letter on the status of the High Risk, they cited the need for ASG to revise their Corrective Action Plan due to the 'settlement agreement' signed in 2012. ”This is now part of the HIGH RISK issue that ASDOE must address.”

 

According to Sanitoa, this settlement agreement between the US DOE, the Office for Civil Rights and the American Samoa DOE was signed in September 2012 by then Acting Director Dr. Jacinta Galea’i.

 

“As stated last week, several parents (who have children) with disabilities, autism and other special needs have contacted me about the lack of qualified and trained specialists and teachers to provide the necessary services for our children as required by local and federal laws.

 

“Special Ed teachers and principals also lodged complaints about not getting proper materials and supplies to help them to do their work for children with special needs,” he wrote.

 

The Tualauta rep pointed out that if these complaints filed with the feds are validated and “we are found not in compliance with the Development Disability Act 2000 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), we will most certainly lose these grants. As you all know, SPED with 200 plus management and staff is 100% funded by federal grants.”

 

During the regular session yesterday, House Vice Speaker Iaulualo Fa'afetai Talia recognized the importance in holding a committee hearing soon to address these serious concerns and issues with DOE and SPED.

 

“Resolving these critical services for our children with special needs is imperative and should be the priority of DOE and all of us.”

 

HOUSE TO HOLD HEARING WITH DPS ON ARMING OF POLICE

 

The House Public Safety Committee will be holding a hearing next week Tuesday on the issue of arming of police officers where DPS Commissioner William Bill Haleck will be attending along with other DPS officials.

 

The Senate on the other hand has already conducted their hearing on this matter where Haleck was urged by the majority of senators not to rush into arming patrol officers.

 

In the meantime, Fagatogo Faipule Mauagoali’o Leapai Sipa Anoa’i does not believe American Samoa has the need to arm our police officers. His concern was brought forth in a letter written to Governor Lolo, and also noted the governor’s current health issue.

 

“I am sure you are comforted in knowing that the entire Territory is praying and look forward to your return home,” Mauagoali’i wrote.

 

He stated in his letter that he also hopes to bring to the governor’s attention the concerns and reservations, including those of many citizens, with the arming of our police officers. “Governor, as you are aware, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety has begun preparing the policy for the use of weapons by police officers.

 

He said for decades, American Samoa, like many developed countries around the world, did not need to weaponize their police officers but rather relied on the respect and deference from the community to maintain order. “And for years, this method of policing has proven to be adequate and successful.

 

“Unfortunately, the new policy being developed is one that I strongly feel is being done in haste and may actually trigger unintended results,” he said.

 

The Fagatogo rep continued, “…I am certain you are aware, this move is historic and should not be done without giving equal attention to everyone it will affect. The real issue at hand is whether we have truly arrived at a point to arm our police officers…”

 

“I do not feel that we have reached the level of unruliness or unrest in our community to necessitate the proposed arming of our police officers.” he stated.

 

HOUSE MEMBERS HONOR TUMUATASI “WALLY” UTU

 

The House of Representatives this week approved a house concurrent resolution conveying deepest condolences of the Fono to Mrs. Taleta Aukusitino Atonio Wally Utu and the bereaved Utu family on the passing of Tumuatasi Fouvaletufanuatamali’i Wally Utu and pays tribute to his life and faithful service to his family, village, the government and people of American Samoa.

 

According to the HCR, Tumuatasi was born on July 17, 1941 in Amouli and at a young age it was immediately noticed that Wally was scholarly and an astute student, that after attending and completing Amouli Elementary he moved to complete Matafanua High before matriculating and then graduating from Samoana High School.

 

Tumuatasi married his wife of 23 years in October 1984 and they were blessed with seven children. Also in 1984, he was asked by his family to serve as their Chief and was bestowed the title Tumuatasi. He was known for his humility and giving nature.

 

The HCR states that Tumuatasi was a very spiritual man and was an active church member devoted to the CCCAS in Amouli where he became a deacon in 1987 and also served as Chairman of the CCCAS Tithing Committee, he also served as the Church secretary and most recently served as Treasurer, until 2013.

 

In ASG, he worked for the Fono for over 30 years, and after serving 16 years he was elected by the House to serve as their Chief Clerk.

 

He served 14 consecutive years in the House until he decided to retire his service to the Fono and ASG. During his tenure as Chief Clerk, Tumuatasi befriended all members of the House, but did not let his personal friendship interfere with work. Tumuatasi passed away at 72; he is survived by his wife and seven children and three grandchildren.

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