Contracts for nine teachers from Samoa not renewed by DHR

ASDOE officials: Decision was DHR director’s alone, they were not consulted
fili@samoanews.com

Human Resources director Le’i Sonny Thompson has informed teachers, whom the Education Department had recruited from Samoa, that their contracts would not be renewed citing local regulations, which provide that any contract renewal is based on the need and at the prerogative of the territorial government.

One of the teachers affected told Samoa News that all nine teachers from Samoa were given the same letter, dated Aug. 23, from Le’i, but they didn’t receive it until early last week Tuesday at the schools where they currently teach.

Another affected teacher said they weren’t even given sufficient notice of their contracts not being renewed and without renewed contracts their immigration ID cards are set to expire at the end of this month (Sept. 30th).

In his letter to the one of the affected teachers, Le’i wrote that the correspondence serves to acknowledge “your invaluable service as an educator and mentor” to ASDOE and ASG. “Your contribution to shape and mold the future leaders of our territory merits our heartfelt sincerity and appreciation for your sacrifice and contributions,” he wrote.

Le’i notes that in 2014, ASDOE was faced “with the plight of shortage of instructional teachers in the classroom” and the ASDOE director and team “took an unprecedented step and approach” to Samoa for assistance and a “temporary stay until a long term solution was reached by ensuring a pipeline of educators was sustained through the Governor’s Graduate Program and collegiate cohort with partnered universities.”

He said that the “environment has improved in the last two years” and noted that the letter serves as a notice that ASG “will not renew your existing contract” following the Sept. 12, 2016 expiration.

He cited the American Samoa Administration Code (ASAC) 4,1009(a) as reason for not renewing the contract and it provides that “any contract renewal is based on the need and at the prerogative of the government.”

In closing Le’i said, “We appreciate your professional contributions” to ASG and “wish you well in your future endeavors.”

Le’i didn’t immediately respond to Samoa News email questions sent last Thursday afternoon regarding his decision, but one of the affected teachers told Samoa News that the ASDOE didn’t provide to the DHR the paperwork for contract renewal, which they (DHR) had been awaiting for the last few months.

However, a senior ASDOE official told Samoa News on Sunday that the decision not to renew the contracts “was made by the DHR director” alone and there was no input from ASDOE.

Le’i’s decision not to renew the contracts comes less than a month after Education director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau, who spearheaded the recruitment of teachers from Samoa, resigned from her post on Aug. 5th to concentrate on her campaign as a congressional candidate.

The teachers from Samoa were contracted to teach in core areas such as English and Math — these have been hard fill teacher positions for ASDOE. It remains unclear as to whether ASDOE has teachers to fill the posts that will be vacated by the teachers from Samoa.

Public schools opening was one of the issues covered at the ASDOE news conference, held on Friday, August 5, conducted by Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau, whose resignation as Education director was effective at 4p.m. that day.

During the news conference, ASDOE officials said there were only a small number of teaching positions to be filled for the new school year 2016/17; with five noted in the Secondary Division, specifically in the core-content areas of Science and Math; while 10 positions were indicated for the Elementary Division

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