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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, May 29, 2024


Dec. 5, 2001 – The Board of Education has written to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull asking to be "active partners" with the Education Department in the decision-making process with regard to the territory's schools.
Evadney Hodge, board executive director, said Wednesday that while the board is empowered by law to set policy for the territory's educational system, its policies often are not implemented by the Education Department. Hodge said the board is powerless to do anything about it because it does not hire the commissioner and does not control the department purse strings.
"This is not a workable system," she said. "We're on the sidelines."
Harry Daniel, board vice president, said much more could be accomplished if the board and the department worked together. He said board members were not aware that the territory's three accredited public high schools were going to lose their accreditation until the decision had already been made.
Hodge said the board has tried many times and many ways to be included. She sees the letter sent to the governor on Nov. 27 as the last step before going to court. "That's expensive," she said.
Only three other jurisdictions in the United States have boards of education with no real power, according to Hodge. She said the governor is well aware of the problems because he served on the board before he was elected governor.
Government House spokeswoman Rina Jacobs-McBrowne said Wednesday that the governor has the board letter under review.
The Senate Education Committee is to look into the accreditation situation, complaints relative to block scheduling of classes, and money owed textbook vendors and other service providers at a meeting Friday at 3 p.m. on St. Thomas. Those invited to testify include the Board of Education chair, Dr. Jorge Galiber; Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds; the heads of the local teachers unions and the senior class presidents from Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean High Schools.
A similar hearing was held Monday on St. Croix. There, Galiber said a bill aimed at giving the board more governance power over the department has been submitted to the Senate. "It is incomprehensible that we're faced with this accreditation crisis," he testified. "It's becoming increasingly clear that the structure of our education system is designed for failure."
Board of Education members are elected by the voting public. They serve four-year terms.
Simmonds did not return a telephone call requesting comment.

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