Minister should publicly explain selectivity in dismissals and reappointments of directors

Centre for Civic Education (CCEassesses that it is good to finally see some dismissals of school directors who abuse public function and do not respect the instructions of education inspectors, as in the case of dismissal of school director of elementary school „Braća Labudović“ in Nikšić. The CCE calls for Minister of EducationDamir Sehovicto address this issue in non-selective and non-discriminatory manner when it comes to all instructions of education inspectors and well-founded charges submitted by other stakeholders.

Unfortunately,  dismissal as the sanction for failure to comply with the law and instructions of education inspectors has not been used by Minister Sehovic in numerous cases, as illustrated by the latest one in Tuzi. Namely, Redzep Djokaj, director of elementary school “Mahmut Lekić” in Tuzi, resigned from that position. He was not dismissed by the Minister even though the Minster was familiar with the charges of teachers concerning Djokaj’s work, as well as with findings of the inspection and the CCE’s request for his dismissal. Hence, in two situations, known to public in recent period, we have contrary actions of Minister who has in the case of Đokaj ignored the evidence, while in the case of Biljana Mićković, director of elementary school “Braća Labudović”, he started needed procedure.

The CCE calls upon Minister Sehovic to explain to the public why he does not act according to the submitted initiatives made by the competent inspections for the dismissals of school directors. The public has the right to know why the Minister does not dismiss the school directors who continuously abuse their public function, do not work in the interest of advancement of curriculum, all of which is recorded in the evidences submitted also by the CCE, whenever we got these information, and finally, why many school directors with serious misdemeanors have been reappointed.

Minister Sehovic has until now ignored the executive acts of Education Inspection, which gave the school directors, who do not comply with the law, a feeling of superiority, encouraged them and everyone else who has that kind of protection to continue with violation of the law, and in overall, it sent a message to the public  that party affiliation and loyalty is above the concern for quality of school directors.

We remind that during 2017 we got, based on free access to information requests, nine proposals for dismissals of school directors for 2016 and 2017 that were submitted by education inspectors to the Minister for further proceedings. It remains unknown why the Minister has not acted in every single case according to these proposals made by the inspectors, especially taking into account that dismissals for certain school directors were proposed several times. Nearly all of them were later reappointed by the Minister, except in rare cases when they fulfilled conditions for the old-age pension.

For instance, last year the director of primary school “Dusan Korac” in Bijelo Polje, Fatima Mehovic, was reappointed, despite the  proposal for her dissmissal by the education inspector due to her illegal work. Furthermore, there are complaints against Mehovic by parents as she did not properly address peer violence in the school. The State Audit Institution also indicated that she did not manage the school in adequate manner, as well as part of the school management, trade union of the school and parents of children who are attending the school. However, it turns out that all of these complaints and negative findings only recommended her for reappontment to the Minister.

Also, despite many proposals by the Inspection for removal of Veselin Pićurićthe director of High Electrotechnics School “Vaso Aligrudic“, whose abuses of official position are supported by final convictions and numerous criminal charges filed against him by teachers of that school, he was reappointed by the Minister.

Finally, in April 2018, the CCE  filed to the Minister an Initiative for the dismissal of school director of Maritime high school in KotorVeljko Botica, for abuse of official position and conscious violation of articles 6 and 7 of General Law on Education and Upbringing. Until  nowadays, this has not been processed, despite series of sent reminders. By that Initiative, the CCE sought to punish any school director who allowed the abuse of school’s institutions for political purposes, regardless which political party held gatherings in school. But, it remains known if the Minister did anything about this.

These cases, which are not isolated, highlight the need for legal changes in procedure of appointment and dismissal of school directors to avoid discretionary decision making of the Minister through which those that do not respect the law are protected. These changes would influence establishment of responsibility of school directors and improvement of the quality of work within the schools.

The CCE requests from the Minister to publicly publish entire documentation concerning appointment of school directors, findings of inspection about their work, as well as documentation  on dismissals, and hence to provide material for general public to assess the objectivity of the process. The CCE will keep on insisting on application of sanctions and disciplinary and criminal liability, in line with regulations, against all those that abused their official position, and also on ending with the practice where repeated violators were awarded with reappointment.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor