Judge urges parents’ bodies to focus on the children
A High Court judge has admonished stakeholders in the education sector to put aside personal interests and focus their efforts on helping the nation’s children overcome the challenges they currently face.
Justice Carol Gobin made the suggestion after dismissing an application brought by the president of the Concerned Parents Association, Clarence Mendoza, and 13 others challenging the election results of the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) election results in April.
On Tuesday, Gobin dismissed the application because of “grave non-disclosure” since Mendoza and the others failed to indicate that the NPTA’s election was held after a consent order had been agreed to by the parties.
“The election did not come out of the blue. It was a process and, after negotiations, the position to hold an election was arrived at.”
She upbraided Mendoza and his team of Olive Garcia, Kari-Ann Mejias, Patrice Drakes, Hugh Griffith, Derek Cooper, Latifah Hanif Mohammed, Richard Cave, Judith Alexander, Michael Joseph, Shamila Raheem, Francis Sampson, Bernadette Brown-Frederick and Jason Greenidge for now coming to court to argue the April 23 election was unlawful and not held in accordance with association’s constitution when the parties had agreed to the terms so it could be held.
She told them if they had concerns about how the election was conducted, they can file fresh proceedings.
“It can’t be if you do not like the outcome (of the election) you try to unseat the duly-elected body.”
In their application, Mendoza and the others were seeking to have the court declare the April 23 election null and void because of irregularities. They also asked for an order for fresh elections to be held.
After dismissing the application, Gobin addressed the parties.
She said while she understood people wanting to serve and make a contribution, particularly in parents’ associations, but asked that they, instead, put aside personal interests and address the serious challenges facing schools and students.
“We have school violence, we’ve had covid, we’ve seen the performance of our children… Children are starving because they cannot get meals…,” she said.
“Do we really need to keep bringing these proceedings?” the judge asked.
The warring factions of the national parents’ body were in the court since 2019, when, less than two months before elections that year, the association’s general council removed its national executive committee.
Mendoza, who was named as one of the 14 defendants had filed a judicial review application, arguing he was not duly notified of the new election date in January 2020, so it was canceled.
Mendoza then withdrew that application but fresh proceedings were filed which eventually led to the parties agreeing on a position so that the election could be held.
At the April 23 election, a new executive was elected which is led by Kevin David, who was named as one of the defendants in the injunction application. The others included Zena Ramathali, Allison La Croix, William Thongs, Joseph Lindow and Sheba Jacobs.
Mendoza and the others were ordered to pay the NPTA’s costs. He was represented by attorneys Rishi Tripathi and Priyanka Maharaj while Sarah Lawrence and Martin George represented the NPTA.
BY: JADA LOUTOO