Centre for Civic Education (CCE) has been pointing for years to deficiencies of a legal provision by which the Minister of Education appoints and dismisses directors of educational institutions. Such provision creates enormous and unjustified space for discretionary decision-making, and this is visible both through the appointment process and through the “protection” of those directors for whom the Educational Inspection has stated that they have not been working according the law.
Following up the text publicized on the Antenna M portal ‘Director of the school ‘Dusan Korac’ accuses of misconducting, she has no comment, the Ministry is waiting for a plea’, the CCE reminds that we submitted an initiative to the Minister of Education for the dismissal of one school director a year ago, but also published that the Education Inspection submitted nine requests for the dismissal of directors of primary and secondary school for the period of 2016 and 2017. Without any sustainable argument, the Minister ignored our initiative and the requirements of the Education Inspection. It is a matter of additional concern that some of the directors in whose work the Education Inspection several times declared irregularities and proposed their dismissal were re-elected to these functions instead of being dismissed.
Recently again mentioned in the media, Fatima Mehovic, the director of elementary school ‘Dusan Korać’ in Bijelo Polje, was one of those whose dismissal Education Inspection requested. Furthermore, in her case, there is a final verdict of the Basic Court in Bijelo Polje that confirms her illegal work. Also, the State Audit Institution, as well as the school board, the union and the parents of the pupils who attend that school pointed to her improper work.
This case also confirms our commitment that the right to elect and dismiss the school directors should be removed from the competence of the Minister of Education and returned to the competence of school boards in order for such elections and dismissals to be in the public interest.
School is an institution in which merits and legal work must be promoted, not selective approaches and party interests. In the recent period, we are witnessing dominance of elections that are not merit based which jeopardize relationships of all who are related to school – teaching staff, pupils, local communities. This also increases the risk of violence, extremism and radicalism, especially in education institutions in multi-ethnic environments. For example, the CCE got the information that in the mentioned school in Bijelo Polje some parents demand from director that only teachers who have the same religion affiliation as they must teach their children, and that she has understanding for such requests, which is devastating and unacceptable in civic society such as Montenegro.
Also illustrative is the case of Veselin Picuric, who despite several proposals and initiatives for dismissal, has been recently re-elected as director of the Secondary School of Electrical Engineering ‘Vaso Aligrudic’ in Podgorica. His misconducts in public office are also reflected in court judgments and numerous criminal charges of the school teachers submitted against him, as well as material damage for which he was directly liable. Nevertheless, the Minister re-elected him to that function.
These examples are concerning as these also degraded the institution of the Education Inspection, given that Minister continuously overpass its requirements.
It should be noted that due to irregularities in education, employment of teachers circumventing regulations, announcing calls, grading pupils, issuance of public documents, violation of the rights of children and teachers, fine of almost 60,000 euros was imposed in 2018 to educational institutions by the Administration for Inspection Affairs, which is an alarming data. It is not known if the Minister of Education sanctioned the directors to whom these sentences were imposed, but it is known that he has rewarded some of them with the re-election.
The CCE again urges the Ministry of Education to take more responsibility when it comes to appointment of directors of educational institutions, as well as to punish those who should be sanctioned. Also, CCE invites MPs to initiate the process of amending the General Law on Education in order to return the process of election and dismissal of directors to school boards, because it is evident that such a system produces serious damage.
Snezana Kaludjerovic, Senior Legal Adviser