We have received a considerable amount of messages from parents. Here are some excerpts:
My concern is with the current governance structure and apparent lack of transparency.
As this situation develops, unfortunately my concerns as a parent are growing substantially. With news today of more teacher resignations and the local news outlets covering this as a news piece, my worry for the well-being of our children has reached boiling point. It saddens me to say, and I know I am not the only one, that this has brought me to the point where I have contacted other schools on island to ensure my child will have somewhere else to go if this nonsense continues.
I was in attendance, as many were, at the September 14th meeting and I was shocked and saddened by several of the details heard. As the majority stakeholders in the school, parents need and deserve transparency. The fact that the church, who provide no funding at all towards the school, can be left solely in control of it’s day to day running is absurd. We have had three priests in the last three years in control of the school with zero experience in education, very little knowledge of our islands or it’s people and who certainly have not been brought up in this school or have any real understanding of it’s curriculum – I can’t even begin to tell you how offended I was with the letter we received earlier this week from Bishop Cepeda, it lacked any substantial information and did not address a single one of our concerns. Some of these concerns being, why haven’t we seen a single financial statement of account, why were we not included in any correspondence relating to the by laws being changed by the parish, why aren’t they doing a single thing to try and retain Ms. Alexander and finally how is it possible that as an 8 million dollar a year business there is no sound governance structure in place? Sadly, I fear we will never get an answer to these questions.
It is with shock that I now see these walls, built on a history of commitment and community – of blood, sweat and tears – is crumbling before my eyes. The foundation that makes this school so special, is dissolving with every teacher and leader that shares their concern and, even more alarming, their resignation. The schools control to lead and provide the first class education that it is known for, the very core of the school, is being taken away, and we are at risk of losing the fabric of care that creates the beautiful tapestry that is evident every day in the smiles and waves of the children and parents coming through their gates.
This school is unique to Cayman for many reasons, and those are entirely down to the spirit of community and trust that the parents feel when we leave our children – our most precious gift in the world – in the hands of teachers and carers that we believe with all our hearts love our children like family. Additionally, we have so much respect and gratitude for the school leadership who have so selflessly committed themselves and their lives to not only providing a first class educational environment which competes and is respected on the international stage, but somehow also making every parent and child feel like they have a special place within those walls.
While I am incredibly happy and supportive of their teachers and learning environment, the recent unrest within the school has caused me to worry about my child’s education going forward. I hope that matters can be resolved amicably and in a professional and timely manner.
Up until very recently the reputation of St Ignatius as a school was excellent and over the last year or so it’s standing has only gone from strength to strength; Ms. Alexander proved that the school and it’s amazing faculty were well equipped during the pandemic, the children’s learning was kept a main concern and staff went above and beyond to ensure their welfare (both educationally and personally) was the priority. I am not alone in this sentiment and we, as parents, will stand behind the teachers and school leadership, and demand, as members of this school, that the stipulations being made by the HSA, the SAB/ SAC and the Parents’ Governance and Transparency Sub Committee are met so that the school can get back to doing what it does best, and we parents feel the much needed comfort and stability of a well run and successful school.
ADDITIONAL MESSAGES ON TEACHER RETENTION:
Over the past few weeks we have all realised how quickly things can change. I have seen the emotion and sadness coming from it’s staff and we would all be lying if we said this wasn’t reflecting on how the children are feeling. I am hugely concerned about staff retention and the very real possibility that we are going to lose many of our fabulous teachers to other schools, whether on or off island. I hope the teachers understand how much we are all supporting them and hoping for change for everyone involved.
MRS ALEXANDER’S RESIGNATION AND FACULTY TURNOVER/RETENTION CONCERNS
I write to provide our family’s full support of the Home School Association Parents and Governance Committee’s passionate efforts to create transparency and promote a collaborative environment where the education of our children is headed and coordinated by qualified educators in collaboration with representatives from St. Ignatius Catholic Church.
I am saddened to learn, but not entirely shocked, that we are seeing a ripple effect of resignations throughout our school which certainly stems from a lack of leadership, fear of the unknown and untenable working conditions experienced by others which no doubt are trickling down to our highly regarded and respected faculty members. Turnover has been high at St. Ignatius Catholic School over the past few years, particularly in the primary years and as an HR professional, I now understand why. The teaching staff are not treated professionally with their one and two-year renewable employment contracts. This practice is antiquated, inequitable and grossly unfair particularly when the school continues to grow and can with certainty plan their workforce needs well in advance knowing full well that there is a shortage of school placements on the island. I recommend that this practice be reviewed to provide our educators with secure and continuous employment opportunities which in turn provides continuity, engagement, commitment to the islands and enhances the quality education provided to our children.
Mrs. Alexander and our faculty of dedicated teachers have worked tirelessly to provide our children with quality education during COVID-19 which remains a present threat to our islands. Now is not the time for unnecessary change, it is a time for consistent, resilient, and demonstrated leadership by keeping Mrs. Alexander at the helm with her team of experienced and valued teachers. It is vitally important that we do everything to retain all teachers and Mrs. Alexander.
I fully support and strongly encourage the HSA — PGC to raise the above concerns with the Parish Council and the Archdiocese in a constructive manner with a view to solving these serious issues before they further impact our school community.
If you have concerns, please email them to us Parents@StIgnatiusParents.org We will redact any identifying information in your email to protect your anonymity.