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SPA board writes parents claiming fired teacher has history of violence

Parents join striking teachers at SPA
‘Concerned parent’ counters there is no proof or documentation

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In an email letter to parents on Sunday, the South Pacific Academy board of directors made serious claims that one of the terminated teachers has “a history of violent behavior in school” and had already been warned.

But a “very concerned parent”, countered the board’s claim, telling other parents in an email letter yesterday that the board provides “no evidence or facts” and “no documentation” to support such claim and called on parents to join striking teachers yesterday morning amid heavy rain.

While the majority of teachers are on strike, the private school continues with classroom sessions, as SPA has invited teaching applications and is considering offers for remote instruction, according to the board’s letter to parents.

Striking teachers are calling for the reinstatement of two teachers, whom they say weren’t given due process before being fired. A similar call is also being made through an online petition, launched last Thursday by parents, alumni and members of the community. (See yesterday’s edition for details.)


The SPA board of director’s letter recalled their meeting last Thursday with parents in the hope of resolving the teachers’ strike.

“Unfortunately, what we expected to be an acceptable proposal was rejected by the striking teachers,” the letter states. “The sticking issue was a condition we demanded of the terminated teachers not return to campus and classrooms solely out of our concern for the welfare of your children and integrity of the Power School database.”

When parents entrusted their children to SPA, the school became responsible to their education and safety, according to the board, noting that those “duties are non-negotiable”.

Therefore, the Board feels that in order to protect the common interest of the Board, the staff, and all parents which is the safety and well-being of the students of SPA, the letter provide further information for parents.

Among the information, is that one of the “terminated teachers has a history of violent behavior in the school and was previously warned of such behavior as documented in his employee file,” according to the letter which didn’t identify the teacher by name.

Based on complaints received from the parents and students and an incident observed by Board, teachers, and parents alike, the letter further alleges that, “this teacher continued this pattern of violence.”

“It was our collective and unanimous decision that given the teacher’s violent history, the complaints received, and the behavior observed, we cannot under any circumstance permit the re-entry of this teacher onto the school’s campus,” according to the board’s letter.

The letter also says that the other terminated teacher administered the Power School program, which has been an explosive concern of the parents.

“Discovery of unauthorized access to the program resulted in his termination,” the board alleges in their letter. “Again, collectively and unanimously, the Board refused to permit this teacher back on campus to prevent any risk of compromising Power School.”

According to the board, “striking teachers disagreed with our insistence that both teachers remain off the school premises. Hence, negotiations failed and the strike goes on.”

Since the striking teachers are represented by an attorney, “we have determined the strike to be a legal matter for the school’s lawyer to handle,” the board said. (As Samoa News reported yesterday, the teachers have retained local attorney Charles Alailima.)

Meanwhile, “we will devote our collective energy to managing all other aspects of the school to complete the school year in June,” the board said, noting that teachers who opted not to strike, and replacement teachers, will provide in-class instructions as school continues.

Parents were also informed that board has “invited teaching applications and are considering offers for remote instructions.”

To the parents of graduating students, the board said, “there will be graduations” but “bear in mind that there may be a slight change in dates due to the events of last week and other school stoppages.”

During Thursday’s meeting, there were questions and exchanges about the Power School database and it’s an indication “how central this automated tool is to the education of our students.”

Parents were assured that this is a top priority and it is being addressed earnestly, according to the letter, which also provide answers the Power School question. It says that SPA acquired Power School software, which is also used by the local Department of Education, to store student information that includes grades .

“Upon initial discovery of unauthorized access, the Board became immediately concerned about the security of the students’ sensitive information,” the letter states. “Presently, the Board is still trying to determine the extent of the breach.”

And the board has reached out for assistance from individuals knowledgeable in Power School to generate reports to determine who may have accessed the database and when.

“The system keeps a history of access. Since each teacher is supposed to keep his or her record of grades, we can cross reference what is in the system to the respective teacher’s log,” the letter said.

Samoa News received information over the weekend that a few parents have transferred their children to another private school, as the majority of the teachers are on strike, and students are not getting the classroom instructions they need, with temporary individuals watching the classes.

The board’s letter addresses this issue, telling parents that it’s “completely understandable that you may be considering a change in your child’s school. We hope you remain with SPA, but the choice, as always, is yours.”

If the parents choose another school, the board said the parent must “settle all your accounts with SPA and return any school property — including books and devices — prior to the school releasing your child’s or children’s transcript(s).”


Following the parents meeting with the board on Thursday, a “Very Concerned Parent”, sent out an email note to all parents saying that “teachers did not reject the Board’s proposal and propose an alternative.”

“On the contrary, the teachers have remained steadfast in their original request to reinstate the two teachers that the Board terminated both illegally and without due process,” it says.

“All that the teachers are asking, is for the Board to follow the existing SPA policies and guidelines which are set forth in the SPA Handbook,” according to the letter.

Following the board’s letter sent out on Sunday, the “Very Concerned Parent” informed all parents — via an email letter yesterday morning — that the board “appears to have some explanation, but the bottom line, there is no evidence or facts presented because there has been no due process for the teachers.”

“There has only been made up stories with no documentation,” the letter points out. “The fact is, the Board continues to bully and intimidate ALL teachers and even the parents and students who stand on the side of right with the teachers.”

“This is not progress, just straight out intimidation and bullying. If you have been to any of the recent meetings with the Board, you will know what we are saying to be true,” the letter states and asked parents to support the striking teachers, despite the rain yesterday.

“I know that we all want this to end and have the teachers back in class to teach our kids. But it is in the hands of the Board. Instead, they want to bring in uncertified and uncredited teachers without background checks to teach our kids,” the letter says. “We did not agree to pay top dollar for our kid's education, only to be taught by less qualified individuals.”

Another meeting of “Concerned Parents” was scheduled yesterday afternoon. “We have some positive news to share with parents. There is light at the end of the tunnel, we hope,” it says, but didn’t elaborate further.