-Says MOE is operating outside the Education Law-
Bishop Dr. Leo M. Simpson, Principal of the Haywood Mission High School in Old Road, Monrovia, has vowed that his institution will not pay any money to the Ministry of Education for hosting graduation ceremony because having graduation is not against the Education Law of the Republic of Liberia.
It can be recalled that MOE penalized Haywood with a fine of L$300,000 (Three Hundred thousand Liberian Dollars) for violating the Ministry’s mandate.
“The Ministry of Education has been notified of a recent violation of its mandate that prohibits all schools from organizing graduation ceremonies and as such has levied a fine of LR$300,000.00 (Three Hundred Thousand Liberian Dollars) against the Haywood Mission High School for non-compliance,” a statement posted on MOE’s Facebook page said.
According to Bishop Dr. Simpson, his institution cannot pay a fine for a crime they did not commit and, if the ministry revokes his school’s permit, then 1,000 students will be put out of school next year.
Haywood is a well-known Christian private school in Monrovia and attracts huge number of students every academic year.
Bishop Simpson admitted that a letter was sent to him on August 23, 2020, by the District Educational Officer (DEO) asking him to pay the sum of $350,000. He said on August 26, 2020, he then received another letter from the Deputy Minister for administration at the Ministry of Education levying the fine of L$300,000 against his school.
“So, I have two letters for one alleged, assumed, purported crime with different amounts,” Bishop Simpson noted. According to him, the Education Law of the Republic of Liberia does not prevent schools from hosting a graduation ceremony for students, let alone stop schools from graduating students.
“This is the Education Law of the Republic of Liberia, and there is nothing in it that says no school should have a graduation ceremony,” he noted.
He further argued that the Education Law does not have any provision that compels a school to wait on WAEC or WASSCE results before hosting graduation or promoting students.
“Graduation from high school is predicated upon the success of the students in completing the prescribed courses of the Ministry of Education in conjunction with courses that we might add, subjects like Bible and Agriculture, that the students will be required to complete before graduating. Is the ministry saying that they don’t hold to their curriculum?” he wondered.
According to him, the Ministry’s decision to put a halt to graduation ceremonies was a mere ‘pronouncement’ and not a law. ”We are governed by laws and not pronouncements.”
According to the MOE’s 2019-2020 academic calendar that was released after COVID-19 break, “There shall be NO Assemblies for Graduation Ceremonies. The Status of Health Risk Shall dictates the course of action to be taken. Any options shall be announced as the time approaches.”
J. Maxime Bleetahn, Director of Communications & Public Relations at the Ministry of Education, said all schools across the country are aware of the ministry’s mandate, and if one is found guilty, it will be fined and if it disagrees with the fine it can go to the court.
“The communication was sent out to every school that there will be no graduation ceremony until 2021. So, once you violate, you will be fined.”
Bishop Simpson also threatened that he will take legal action against MOE because he did not violate any law.
“I am consulting our lawyer; firstly, they wronged us and, if we wronged them, the court will be able to state that,” he said.