New National PTA president ‘ready to rumble’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Kevin David –

New president of the National Parent-Teacher Association (NPTA) Kevin David has signalled it will not be business as usual within the organisation.

In fact, he is already expected to meet with Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and other key stakeholders on Monday to address several issues in the nation’s schools.

“So, bright and early, we intend to start rumbling,” David told Sunday Newsday, hours after he was elected NPTA head.

The new executive includes Zena Ramatali, first vice-president; Joseph Lindow, second vice-president and Onika Callender, third vice-president.

David, who previously served as the president of the Port of Spain and environs educational district, assumed the position on Saturday after the association’s internal election at the Valencia Secondary School. The last NPTA executive election took place in 2017.

But David claimed there were some tense moments at the start of the day’s proceedings when former NPTA executive member and president of the Concerned Parents Association Clarence Mendoza and some of his supporters showed up at the school.

He believes they wanted to stop the election.

“From before, we were getting reports from persons indicating that they were told not to come out because it didn’t make sense for the election. I think the intention was to ensure that the election did not come off.

“The morning period was very heated. That was where the members were expected to register, it was clear that persons had no intention of registering but come into the meeting to disrupt it. However, when that crowd dissipated the elections took place very peacefully.”

He claimed Mendoza’s faction appeared surprised that police were present to ensure the election was carried out smoothly.

“There were some issues early this morning (Saturday) but thank God, we actually planned ahead and had security in place. Our police service did a wonderful job in protecting us and the elections came off.”

Mendoza, former NPTA first vice-president, was removed from the position by a vote of no-confidence on October 5, 2019.

“So, he wasn’t a sitting member per se, because the entire executive was removed by a vote of no-confidence. So, after that vote of no-confidence, the election was scheduled for January 16, 2020, and he filed an injunction the day before the election to stop the election. And then he started to operating like he was the president,” one outgoing executive member told Sunday Newsday.

“So, officially, he didn’t have a portfolio, because in his case, he did not belong to a region so he did not have any portfolio to fall back on.”

Claiming the election was “free, fair and I must say, extremely transparent,” David said, “We had a JP (Justice of the Peace) who oversaw the matter as well as a representative from the Ministry of Education, which was a request made from Mr Mendoza’s side as well as an independent representative, who was overseeing the election.”

He added the new executive is eagerly awaiting the ministry’s report on the conduct of the election.

“But, so far, our understanding is that everyone was quite pleased with the procedure.”

Looking ahead, David, who will serve a period of two years, said the association must be assessed thoroughly to determine the actual its actual state.

“Firstly, we need to assess exactly where we are so our regions, our units, we need to meet with them to find out exactly what is happening because it seems as though a lot of our regions were dormant.”

He also signalled that as a newly-elected body, there will be changes within the organisation.

“So, for example, we have to implement certain things to ensure that our units themselves, which are in direct contact with our students are actually doing what they are supposed to be doing and reporting back to the region as well as the region reporting back to the national executive any problems or issues that they may have.”

David continued, “Because recently we have found that a lot of information has been flooding the media and we have no record of that information. There appears to be a clear intent of ensuring that communication is broken down. So, certain things will have to be put in place.”

Saying the NPTA was a structured organisation, he said rules will have to be implemented to govern members’ conduct.

“Discipline will have to be taken where deemed necessary.”

David said he is grateful the election has finally taken place “But I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Ramatali, the outgoing president, also said she was pleased with the conduct of the election.

“People had to sign for their ballot paper and there was a system to ensure checks and balances,” she said.

Ramatali added there was also a deadline for submitting members’ names from the various units.