Thu, Feb 22, 2018 - Page 1 News List

TES meetings expose deep schism

By Noah Buchan  /  Staff reporter

A parent asks Taipei European School CEO David Gatley a question yesterday at a townhall meeting over the firing of two popular administrators on Tuesday.

Photo: Noah Buchan, Taipei Times

About 100 parents last night attended Taipei European School’s (TES) Swire European Secondary Campus for a tense meeting to learn why two of the school’s popular administrators, Stuart Glascott and Peter Sloan, were fired on Tuesday by school chief executive David Gatley, exposing deep fissures in the way the school is run.

In a letter addressed to parents on Tuesday, Gatley wrote that Glascott and Sloan were no longer heads of the British secondary and primary sections respectively, and that over the years the school has “suffered from an unhealthy atmosphere.”

“As a consequence of manipulation there has been many unverified rumors circulating around the school. There have also been many intentional miscommunications that lead me to these conclusions,” Gatley said in the letter.

However, last night Gatley refused to detail the precise reasons why the two administrators were let go, angering parents who expressed outrage that they were not told of the firing before it happened.

As parents lobbed questions at Gatley, it became apparent that he was not going to answer.

When questioned about the legality of the firings, Gatley had difficulty answering questions about labor laws and the school’s constitution.

“What a spectacular failure by TES’ ‘interim’ CEO [chief executive officer] to provide any answers today,” wrote Stephane Riverain on the school’s Facebook forum. “It’s infuriating to see that not a single member of the board of directors even had the decency to show up for the meeting ... when all the parents had to make special arrangements to be there at short notice.”

The crux of the matter revolves around the status of the school. The German and French sections only received accreditation from their home country’s education agencies if parents are at the center of the school’s decisionmaking regarding hiring and budget.

In the past, elected parent representatives would make recommendations to the board, which approved or not.

The dismissal of the two administrators was reportedly the tip of the iceberg in a series of decisions that excluded elected parents from decisions affecting the school.

The decision follows administrative changes to the school that the board of directors tried to opaquely implement in July last year. The changes were later rejected by the Taipei Bureau of Education and put on hold after some parents sent a letter to the bureau to denounce the board’s decision to unilaterally change the TES’ constitution without approval from parents.

The parents had accidentally learned about the changes and repeatedly requested clarification from board chairman C.V. Chen (陳長文), a former Straits Exchange Foundation secretary-general.

The letter was signed by 133 parents.

According to the school’s constitution, any changes to the constitution has to include the parent’s approval through a general assembly meeting, which the board of directors did not hold.

The letter did not have the effect that the authors had hoped and no resolution was reached.

Last month, in response to the board’s intransigence a petition that was signed by 606 parents and sent to the bureau demanding that the board of directors comply with the school’s constitution and Taiwanese law.

Although Gatley refused to tell parents why Sloan and Glascott were fired, most parents believe it is related to a dispute between parents and the board of directors.

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