Colombo Telegraph is now in possession of the English translation of the petition handed over to the President by the students of Uduvil Girls’ College who protested last week demanding the reinstatement of Mrs. Shiranee Mills as the school’s Principal. The petition reveals that the Bishop of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah had made a verbal promise to the previous Principal Mrs. Shiranee Mills that she would be given an extension and requested her to write to him a letter. The petition also says that even the new Principal Mrs. Patricia Suneetha Jebaratnam, who was previously the Vice Principal, was told by the Bishop that Mrs. Mills would be given an extension.
In the meantime, at a parents’ meeting held in Jaffna, a parent was heard saying (in Tamil) that Mrs. Patricia Suneetha Jebaratnam had given hope to some of the students prior to her appointment as Principal that Mrs. Mills would get an extension for another two years and if Mrs. Mills was denied extension she herself and her daughter, who is the current Head Prefect of the school, would fight for Mrs. Mills’ extension. When the students met Mrs. Jebaratnam after her appointment was announced to ask her to join their struggle to reinstate Mrs. Shiranee Mills as the Principal, Mrs. Jebaratnam had begun to cry.
The students also note in their petition that the newly appointed Principal has failed to take action and failed them in her duty when they were being attacked and abused by the teachers. They end their petition requesting the President to reinstate Mrs. Mills as principal and release the school from the grip of Jaffna Diocese Church of South India by making changes in the governing body.
In the meantime, Mrs. Shiranee Mills handed over duties to Mrs. Jebaratnam yesterday.
Here is the petition in full:
Honurable President Maithripala Sirisena,
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Re: Request of the Students of Uduvil Girls’ College
In Uduvil Girls’ College there is no age limit for a Principal. There have been Principals who have served well over 60 years.
If Principals should retire by the age of 60 why did the management request Mrs.Mills to come for an interview?
Why did Bishop Thiagaragah promise Mrs.Mills that he would give her an extension and request her to write him a letter?
Why did the Bishop give the former Vice Principal Mrs. Suneetha Jebaratnam their word that they would extend Mrs.Mills’ services?
In the members of the selection committee for the post of Principal how many are from the Uduvil Girls’ College Community and know our history and the love that we have for this school?
The new selection for Principal was held on the 16th and 17th of August. The decision was announced on the 18th of August. The Principal was ordered to hand over all documents and particulars pertaining to the school on the 6th of September to the new principal giving only 19 days notice. Why was she asked to hand over the school in just 19 days?
Why were the teachers prevented from holding a farewell for the principal before she left?
Why were the students prevented from meeting the Principal?
At the end of the second term it was announced that the third term will start on the 5th of September. This was recorded on the report card. Why was the opening postponed to the 8th of September without consulting the Principal?
Why is Bishop Daniel Thiagarajah and the management giving us students so much of problems and causing us a lot of heart ache.
The bishop nor the members of the board visited us to hear our grievances. Why were they ignoring our pleas?
The zonal department officials came to see us and hear our pleas. They said that they would not be able to help us as the private schools don’t come under their jurisdiction in management as this matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Education Ministry and the Education Department. But the provincial education ministry and the Education Department have failed in their duty to protect the students? Why?
The teachers are supposed to protect the students from harm. Why did these teachers turn around and verbally and physically attack and abuse us?
We were threatened over the phone by a few teachers and were ordered not to partake in the protest or else we will have to face the consequences.
The protection of the students was compromised when they started receiving threatening calls asking us not to partake in the strike.
While the students were being attacked and abused by the teachers the newly appointed principal did not take any action and failed us in her duty to protect the students?
For these reasons we implore you to intervene and not allow the Education Ministry and the school management sacrifice the well being of the students of Uduvil Girls’ College. We humbly request you to take necessary action to create a safe environment that will support us and respect us as students. We also request you to reinstate Mrs.Mills’ position as principal and release the school from the grip of Jaffna Diocese Church of South India by making changes in the governing body.
Students of Uduvil Girls’ College