THE Presbyterian Board has sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) over recent changes to the recruitment process for denominational primary school teachers.
Head of the Association of Denominational Boards Sharon Mangroo said she is not surprised.
This is the second denominational board to threaten legal action, with the first being the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS).
The boards believe the changes exclude input from the denominational boards, as mandated by the long-standing Concordat – a pre-Independence agreement signed between government and heads of the various religious denominations.
The new recruitment process would require all Teacher I (Primary) vacancies across all schools to be advertised.
The letter says the board suggested nine different teachers between July and October 2022, but there was no response. It then wrote to the Education Ministry to address this.
The board also informed the ministry’s permanent secretary it had no intention of selecting teachers from any list from the Ministry of Education.
It reminded the permanent secretary of “the settled practice whereby candidates who have followed the existing procedure, have been successful in their interviews and have been recommended by the board are appointed.”
But the board said the ministry never responded to this either.
The board believes the new recruitment process is “unlawful,” adding that the ministry tried giving several excuses such as not wanting to continue accepting unsolicited applications and the desire to advertise all vacancies on a needs basis, among other things.
It said the delay in filling vacancies by failing to appoint those recommended by the PPSBE (Presbyterian Primary Schools Board of Education) adversely affected the delivery of quality primary-school education to students of Presbyterian schools.
“This situation is completely untenable, and our client should not be held at ransom by the TSC until it agrees to the implementation of its new, unlawful and arbitrary policy for the recruitment of teachers.”
It said the new process woulfcause “the erosion of assurances given by the Concordat.
The TSC’s halting the established process and starting “a completely new, unlawful and arbitrary” process, it said, was intended to leave the board, if it conceded to the changes, unable to rely on the Concordat, thus enabling the TSC to fresh regulations that undermined the Concordat.
It called on the TSC to abandon the new process and approve its recommendations.
In February, the Presbyterian board, the SDMS, Presbyterian, Vedic, KPA, Methodist and SWAHA boards did not send representatives to a meeting with the Education Ministry and the TSC.
The TSC has until April 14 to respond.
Speaking to Newsday on Friday afternoon, Mangroo said while she had not seen the letter herself, “I knew it was going to happen. It’s not a surprise.”
Asked if she thought other boards would pursue legal action, she said, “Possibly.”
She said none of the boards supported the recruitment process but not all are taking the route of sending legal letters.
“Some boards are still trying to see if they can hold amicable discussions.”
But she said there has been no progress.
Newsday tried to contact TSC chairman Elizabeth Crouch and Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly but calls went unanswered.