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Judge tells NCPTA members put aside differences in the interest of children

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Judge tells NCPTA members put aside differences in the interest of children

A High Court has encouraged members of the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (NCPTA) to put aside their personal differences in the interest of the children the organisation ultimately represents. 

Justice Carol Gobin made the call on Tuesday during a status hearing of a lawsuit between the NCPTA and its former acting president Clarence Mendoza.  

During the hearing, Gobin advised Mendoza to withdraw his application challenging the organisation’s executive election which was held in late April. 

Gobin pointed out that the elections had been previously put on hold due to the litigation between the parties and took place after they agreed to a consent order over the issue. 

“You may have your concerns over how the election was conducted but that is a different matter because you cannot say that the election was unlawful,” she said. 

Mendoza’s lawyer Rishi Tripathi claimed that he was not involved in the previous litigation and was not informed of the consent order when he was retained by Mendoza. 

Before adjourning the case, Gobin said: “I urge all parties to work for the interest of the nation’s children. Put them first.”

Gobin pointed out that the organisation had a critical role in helping to address issues in the education sector, such as school violence and the lack of physical classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The last results of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam showed the impact. Do we really need all these proceedings? Surely, parents can put themselves in something more productive for the children,” she said. 

Gobin advised the parties to consider withdrawing all their pending litigation and adjourned the case to October 24. 

Guardian Media understands that the dispute stemmed from a no-confidence motion passed by the General Council in October 2019 against former NCPTA president Ruffiena Ali-Boodoosingh and her executive, including Mendoza, who served as first vice-president. 

The council reportedly decided that until a fresh election, the organisation should be run by an interim team made up of the presidents and secretaries of regional PTAs that form the council, including former NCPTA head and St George PTA president Zena Ramatali. 

Ramatali and her team sought an injunction on the NCPTA’s behalf, as they claimed that Mendoza and some of his fellow former executive members hijacked control of the organisation last year. 

In their defence to the substantive lawsuit, obtained by Guardian Media, Mendoza and his team are contending that Ramatali and her team did not have the authority to bring the lawsuit on the NCPTA’s behalf and were, in fact, the ones attempting to hijack control of the organisation. 

“Strangely enough, had the no-confidence motion not been attempted, a standard election would have been held less than a month later and Zena Ramatali could have contested it freely and fairly,” they claimed. 

While Mendoza and his team admitted that the interim team was appointed after Ali-Boodoosingh demitted office, they claimed it was dissolved in July 2020, after several members, except Ramatali, resigned. 

They claimed that Mendoza, who has since gone on to establish the Concerned Parents Movement of T&T (CPMTT), would have served as acting president until the executive elections, which were stopped by a separate injunction. 

The election was held at the Valencia Secondary School on April 23 with Kevin David being elected president along with a 12-member executive team. 

The NCPTA was represented by Martin George and Sarah Lawrence. 

By: Derek Achong

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