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No decision on combined graduation says Gov’s office

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is waiting for the Education Department director to return from an off island business trip to further discuss the proposed one-day combined graduation for public high schools on Tutuila before a final decision is made, says Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, the governor’s executive assistant.


Samoa News reported last Friday that, “In a proposal...” to the governor, DOE is looking at a combined graduation for Tutuila on June 11 with a June 9 date set for Manu’a High School.


DOE director Vaitinasa said this was a “tentative plan” — which had been shared with the governor.


In an email message to the news media Tuesday night, Iulogologo said the governor appreciates the director of Education’s efforts “to try new approaches in the hope to save time and money not only for the government but also for the parents, graduates and the community.”


“I am sure that the Director of Education didn’t take this issue lightly and there might have been overriding reasons why the recommendation was made to the governor,” he said.


These factors will be the topics of discussion in the pending meeting with the DOE director when she returns home, after which the decision will be made whether to adopt the proposed recommendation, he said.


“The governor has encouraged his cabinet directors to challenge the status quo and to make changes if substantial benefits to the people of American Samoa will be generated by changing past practices,” he said. “Notwithstanding, the governor makes the decision on major policy issues.”


He also said that he was “taken aback and surprised” by the emails he received, as well as being alerted that a petition is being circulated asking the governor to reverse the decision by the DOE director on the combined graduation ceremony.


“It is the governor’s established practice that any major policy change is thoroughly discussed with the relevant directors before he makes the final decision. I was aware that the issue was raised in passing with the governor by the director of Education,” Iulogologo said, and noted that he was informed by the governor about the director’s recommendation.


According to Iulogologo, he has been instructed by the governor to call a meeting with the director and her staff when she returns from her off island business trip to further discuss this issue.


While the governor has yet to make a decision, Iulogologo said the impression projected by media reports is that the governor had already approved the DOE recommendation.


“I’m sorry that the community is undergoing unnecessary distress over the issue because I know that the governor had not made a decision on the matter of having one graduating ceremony for all the high schools. This is a major policy shift that requires meticulous assessment and evaluation and the final approval of the governor,” he concluded.


In yesterday’s edition, Samoa News again reported the DOE “proposal” was with the governor, and quoted Iulogologo saying that the governor had not yet made a decision. The same story also pointed out that both online and hard copy petitions are being circulated opposing the DOE director’s “proposal”. (See yesterday’s edition for more details).