Prospective graduates and 11th-graders of Konarski School are being held in suspense over the fate of the school. On the one hand, the court decided that grades 11-12 can be formed; but on the other, the municipal council appealed the decision and aim to finish the reorganization of the school within a year.
A meeting between authorities and Vilnius Principals took place today. At the meeting, a lot of general platitudes were made on the part of the hosts. The Principals reacted with smiles, behind the scenes calling the whole thing a “ joke and a farce”.
“The citizens of Vilnius, and our communities, are very diverse – and that’s the beauty of it. This diversity is also present in the school system. We are unique in that we have the biggest school network in Lithuania. It has certain advantages, but also poses some challenges. Fifteen years ago the school reorganization process was stopped. This stop, this postponement to finishing the re-organization, blocked opportunities for growth and progress. Anyway, this September the changes were introduced; some of them might have been difficult for the community, but they have already been made. Today, I suggest taking into consideration perceiving our community of schools as one body. I understand that every Head cares first and foremost about his or her school. Nevertheless, the idea of unity should accompany us all school year long,” stated Vice Mayor Valdas Benkunskas, who is responsible for Education. The city Mayor, Remigijus Šimašius, added that he doesn’t want “all the schools in Vilnius to be the same,” and asserted that “they have to be different.”
At the very beginning, the new governing coalition stated that they want to introduce more transparency. “For now, I cannot notice this transparency. The current council is very celebratory, but without any details. I think that there is a long way to go to achieve this transparency. I am an optimist and I hope that one day society will be mature enough to notice that transparent and fair politics pays off much more than group divisions,” said Adam Błaszkiewicz, the Principal of John Paul II Gymnasium.
The school doesn’t know the council’s decision
The District Administrative Court in Vilnius suspended the functioning of the resolutions made by the Vilnius City Municipal Council, according to which, for example, the Konarski School was not to create grades 11 and 12 this school year. Vice Mayor Bekunskas told zw.lt that the council will respect the court’s decision.
“We respect the court`s decision, even though in other cases the court did not respect summons, which is a strange practice. Nevertheless, we treat the decisions of the court as formal acts, both in the Centro School and the Konarski School cases. Both of the schools will form the 11th grade. This is what the legal acts and the court’s decisions say,” said Benkunskas.
However, the Vice-Mayor emphasized that the council appealed the decision. “We appealed the decision, but it seems that the court won’t consider it before the 1st September. Of course, during the school year we won’t be relocating students to other schools,” added the Vice Mayor. Benkuskas emphasized that the council will try to complete the reorganization prior to 1st September 2016, not 1st September 2017 as stated in the amendments to the Act on Education. “We don’t want to wait until the last minute. We want to finish it within a year, no matter what the decision of the Parliament is,” asserted Benkunskas.
The Headmistress of the school, Teresa Michajłowicz, told zw.lt that she hasn’t got any information concerning the right to forming grades 11-12 from the municipal council, so she cannot comment on what Benkunskas said.
School to school migration
The students of the higher grades started moving to John Paul II Gymnasium after the Vilnius municipal council’s decision to downgrade Konarski School to a primary school was made. Since the court’s decision was announced, the students are moving back to their original school.
“Students coming to us were emphasizing that they want to study here only if the Konarski School doesn’t form the 11th grade; otherwise, they would be going back. It is such a paranoid situation and politicians and the city’s authority should take full responsibility for it, as students and their parents don’t know what to expect. Nobody knows for how long grades 11-12 will exist there,” said Adam Błaszkiewicz.
The Head Master of the gymnasium is sure that the municipal council should not let this happen. Currently, prospective graduates do not think about their Matura exams but about choosing a new school. “I wouldn’t like to have anyone in my family in the 11th grade and attending this school. What if the appeal of the municipal council concerning the court’s “suspension” is cancelled? Are these classes going to be formed or not? There is no clarity,” argued Błaszkiewicz.
The re-organization of the Lithuanian school was to be completed on 1st September 2015. However, the Parliament passed certain amendments to the Act on Education and prolonged the deadline to 1st September 2017.
Tłumaczenie by Julia Siepak w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Julia Siepak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.