Ministry of education must not protect directors of schools who violate the law

Three weeks ago, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) submitted to Minister Sehovic Initiative for dismissal of director of Naval High School in Kotor due to abuse of official position and conscious violation of Articles 6 and 7 of General Law on Education. Despite the Urgency, there is no information to this day whether and with which outcome this initiative has been processed, and also neither for other directors of schools who have been abusing the official position for last two years which was determined also by Education Inspection.

As a reminder, director Veljko Botica has violated the law by permitting organisation and holding of pre-election gathering within political campaign prior to presidential elections scheduled for 15 April 2018 in sport hall of the School Centre in Dobrota in Kotor on 4 April 2018. CCE has enclosed evidences that premises of the school were used for party promotions, thus directly violating the Law. By aforementioned Initiative, CCE has requested for every director who allows abuse of school facilities for political purposes to be punished, regardless of which political party is holding gatherings in schools. CCE has after this Initiative, submitted also an Urgency for urgent conduct upon the same, but the authorised Ministry is still keeping silent.

Furthermore, since the September 2017, CCE has in several occasions requested from Minister Sehovic urgent conduct as per already filed Request for dismissal director of PI High Electrical School ’Vaso Aligrudic’ Podgorica which was submitted to Ministry in June 2017. Request was submitted due to abuse of official position of director of that school Veselin Picuric on several grounds, who is even nowadays director of this institution. In support of the that CCE Urgency for dismissal of Picuric, evidences were submitted, including also several final verdicts related to employment relation and misdemeanour procedure which were resolved for the benefit of professors of that school. Namely, they conducted proceedings with PI High Electrical School ’Vaso Aligrudic’ Podgorica, more precisely with director of that school Veselin Picuric, due to abuse of jurisdiction and official position. Criminal complaints were followed with appendixes which have been submitted by professors of High Electrical School against Picuris and others have also been submitted, according to which pre-investigation before the Basic Prosecution in Podgorica is ongoing since June 2014, which means that these have not yet been dismissed. CCE also urged Minister to start resolving perennially accumulated problems of this teaching cadre incited by acts of Picuric, which the final verdicts and minutes of the authorised services have clearly proved. It remains unclear why is Picuric protected from the law although he violates public interest and why is Minister not sanctioning him i.e. dismissing him according to Article 82a Paragraph 1 Item 3 of the General Education Law, considering also proposals for his dismissal of two education inspectors, in different time periods during 2013 and in November 2017.

Furthermore, CCE has according to the Law on Free Access to Information acquired data that education inspectors have submitted nine proposals for dismissal of directors of elementary and high schools for the period of 2016 and 2017. More precisely, these are directors of the educational institutions as follows: PI High Economic School ’Mirko Vesovic’ Podgorica, PI BS ’Bozidar Vukovic Podgoricanin’, PI High Vocational School Rozaje, PI Vocational Medicine School Podgorica, PI BS ’Dusan Korac’ Bijelo Polje, PI BS ’Salko Aljkovic’ Pljevlja, PI High Electrical School ’Vaso Aligrudic’ Podgorica, PI Gymnasium ’Petar I Petrovic Njegos’ Danilovgrad.

One of the nine proposals for dismissal of directors relates also to director of BS ‘Dusan Korac’ in Bijelo Polje Fatima Mehovic, against whom CCE has received multiple complaints due to abuse of official position and mobbing over employees, unauthorised employment, which was also stated by Proposal for her dismissal. Also, State Audit Institution has published at their website the Report on audit of project ‘Role of media in prevention of abuse of drugs among pupils’ population’ realised by Public Institution Basic School ‘Dusan Korac’ Bijelo Polje. Audit of regularity of the spent sources and conducted activities relating to this project, determined that BS ‘Dusan Korac’ from Bijelo Polje, as user of sources, did not harmonise financial and business activities with regulations in all matter significant aspects, and auditors have expressed negative opinion accordingly. However, not even all of this is enough for Mehovic to be dismissed since she is even today a director of that school.

Out of nine submitted proposals for dismissal of directors, change of director occurred only in PI High Vocational School in Rozaje in previous two years, but whether expiration of mandate of the then director occurred or he was dismissed of duty, CCE did not have an insight. This is especially concerning because some directors are on these positions for multiple terms of office or longer than a decade, and against some of them, proposals for dismissal were submitted even two times (PI High Economic School ’Mirko Vesovic’ Podgorica – 2016 and 2017). Proposals for dismissal of education inspectors are based on different grounds. Some of them have committed serious misdemeanours and abuse of public function, while other grounds are of somewhat easier qualified form of misdemeanour. Minister was just obliged to act upon determined misdemeanour findings and pass decisions on dismissals, and considering he did not do so, he must also publicly explain why he did not act upon these decisions.

CCE assesses that by these postponements of execution and conduct upon passed acts the authorised Ministry is diminishing work of Education Inspection only because someone dislikes the findings, and subsequently education inspectors who are working in line with the law and are determining violations of laws are being degraded. Minister’s failure to act upon executive acts gives sense of protection and superiority precisely to directors who violate the law, encourages them and all others who have that sort of protection to commit abuses. All of this strongly supports CCE’s perennial advocating for amending the Law in the part of hiring and firing of directors in order to avoid discretionary cadre decision-making, but also to establish higher level of responsibility of directors of educational institutions themselves.

CCE again invites the minister in charge to reconsider all proposals for dismissal of directors submitted by the Education Inspection, as well as by the CCE initiative and to conduct urgently upon the same.

Mira Popovic, programme associate