Thu | Jun 20, 2024

Calabar Old Boys suspend mentorship programme

PTA ‘in full support’ of past students’ stance over unresolved matters with school’s board, administration; Atlanta, Florida chapters request audits into scholarship, feeding programmes

Published:Friday | April 19, 2024 | 12:13 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter
The main entrance at Calabar High School on Red Hills Road.

THE CALABAR Old Boys’ Association (COBA) has suspended its long-standing mentorship programme at the Red Hills Road-based institution, citing “long-standing unresolved matters” with the board and administration.

The executive of COBA said as a result, all programmes, including mentorship at Calabar High School, are suspended immediately until further notice.

The directive was communicated in a March 14 letter, a copy of which was seen by The Gleaner. It carried the signature of the COBA Mentor chairman, Ian Myrie, but did not explicitly state what the long-standing issues are.

He declined comment when contacted by The Gleaner yesterday, deferring to COBA’s president, David Miller.

Miller also declined to comment on why the programme was suspended when contacted by The Gleaner yesterday.

“No thanks,” Miller said when asked to comment on the decision.

In a second letter, also dated March 14, Calabar’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) informed parents of the development.

“We know how important the mentorship programme is to the well-rounded development of your sons/wards, however, the mentors, as members of the Calabar Old Boys’ Association (COBA), were compelled to take this action until the matters of concern between them and the school’s administration are resolved,” the letter signed by PTA president Kenneth Lawrence said.

“The PTA stands in full support of COBA and mentorship,” it added.

On Wednesday, The Gleaner reported on the opposition of COBA and the PTA to the permanent appointment of acting principal Sian Wilson.

The two stakeholder groups have been critical of Wilson’s ability to improve the school’s poor academic performance.

The Gleaner learnt that an assessment of form averages at the end of the last academic year showed the highest average of 60 per cent coming from the first form. The lowest average of 47 per cent was recorded for fifth-formers.

Further, COBA’s Atlanta and Florida chapters have requested audits into Calabar’s scholarship and feeding programmes, according to email correspondence seen by The Gleaner.

The requests were made in March.

“We are very disturbed by allegations that have surfaced regarding the management of scholarships that has been sent to the school. We are requesting an audit of the scholarships for the academic school years 2022-2023 and 2023-2024,” one of the emails to board chairman Reverend Karl Henlin from COBA’s Atlanta Chapter said.

When contacted yesterday, Henlin said he could not immediately comment because he was in a meeting.

The COBA’s Atlanta Chapter has asked that the audit include, but not be limited to, the names of the students and the scholarships that they received; the date that the student/family was notified of the scholarship award; the total amount of money disbursed to the student/family; if the money was disbursed as a lump sum payment or in installments throughout the year; date of the disbursement; and school fees that were deducted from the student award.

Meanwhile, COBA’s Florida Chapter said it has raised over J$5.2 million for the PATH and Welfare programmes at Calabar, and in light of questions being asked, it is concerned about reports received and the lack of response to providing reports requested over three months ago.

“On behalf of the many donors to our association, I am hereby making a formal request that a financial audit be conducted of the school’s records concerning the Food and Nutrition Programs. I am also requesting that a report be provided to the Florida Alumni Association with alacrity,” vice-president of the chapter Dr Winston White said.