Mendoza to challenge NPTA election again

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Image source: iStock

THE April 23 election of officers of the National Parent Teacher Associations (NPTA) will be challenged over alleged irregularities in the High Court by the Concerned Parents Movement of Trinidad and Tobago, the movement vowed at briefing on Friday at Cipriani Boulevard, Port of Spain. A similar challenge had been made unsuccessfully earlier this month.

Attorney Rishi Tripathi alleged the election had been held without provision for secret balloting as mandated by the NPTA’s constitution. He said some financial members could not vote, some names were left off the list of NPTA members, and old membership lists were used.

“Persons were not given a free and fair opportunity to vote,” he claimed.

Tripathi said he has affidavits from individuals complaining of “irregularities and issues” on voting day.

“The NPTA has a constitution. Members must be able to register.”

He said members must be given sufficient notice, information and opportunity to register to stand as candidates or to vote in the election.

Tripathi complained that rather than a secret ballot, voting took place in an auditorium by members being asked to raise their hands.

Asked about levels of disgruntlement in the NPTA, movement chairman and NPTA former acting president Clarence Mendoza said many PTAs had dropped out of the NPTA, with some changing their status from PTAs to other designations. He said many individuals nationwide had complained about the voting process, which he said had seen two regions completely left out.

Tripathi said the movement had previously taken legal action that had resulted in the court ordering the election to proceed.

Mendoza said the Ministry of Education annually funds the NCPTA with subventions of $250,000 and $90,000.

On July 5, Newsday reported that Justice Carol Gobin had dismissed a challenge to the election results by Mendoza and 13 others, represented by Tripathi and Priyanka Maharaj.

The news report said Gobin dismissed the application because of “grave non-disclosure,” since the Mendoza team failed to indicate that the NPTA’s election was held after a consent order had been agreed to by the parties.

She said, “The election did not come out of the blue. It was a process and, after negotiations, the position to hold an election was arrived at.

“It can’t be if you do not like the outcome (of the election) you try to unseat the duly-elected body.”

Gobin said if those objecting had concerns about how the election was conducted, they could file fresh proceedings.

Previously, NPTA president Kevin David and vice president Zena Ramatali had complained that the movement’s litigation was impeding the NPTA’s work.

In June 2021, Ramatali had filed an injunction to restrain any exercise of power by the NPTA which had been led by Mendoza.

In the April polls, David was elected president and Ramatali first vice president, with Mendoza now due to challenge those proceedings.