- August 20, 2015
Benkunskas to the parents of the Polish schools: Please leave
Vice-mayor of Vilnius, who is currently healing the education issues, Valdas Benkunskas, did not allow the representatives of the parents to be present at the meeting dedicated to a few schools of national minorities. Vice-mayor indicates that the meeting was not supposed to cover the issue of reorganisation, and the parents’ presence caused chaos.
The meeting held in the local government was convened at the initiative of Valdas Benkunskas, and it supposed to concern four schools in Vilnius: Lazdynai High School, Sz. Konarski High School, L. Karsawin High School and A. Puszkin High School. For the meeting the vice-mayor invited the representatives of administration of these schools. Parents, who represented the school council came to the meeting on their own initiative.
„The mayor’s deputy flatly rejected to discuss a particularly important matter with the parents, as he explained that his wish is to talk with the schools’ authorities only. As he heard the parents’ arguments that not only the schools’ representatives but also the local communities should decide about the issues concerning the future of [the minorities’] schools, Valdas Benkunskas explicitly declared that he will not talk about these issues in the presence of representatives of school communities” – the representatives of parents wrote in today’s statement.
„As a member of the school council which according to the Education Act is the most important institution, I was asked to take part in this meeting. Mr. Benkunskas said that only the schools’ headmasters are allowed to attend there. The vice-mayor flatly disagreed to our presence during the talks, and said „please leave”. Then we reminded him about the Education Act according to which there cannot be any reorganisation without the schools’ community consent. After that Mr. Benkunskas turned around, and went to his office saying that in this case, there won’t be any meeting” – says Miroslaw Szejbak, member of the school council of Sz. Konarski High School.
A few days ago, Vilnius Regional Administrative Court suspended the validity of the local government of the Vilnius city’s resolutions, according to which since September the school would not complete the list of students for class 11 and 12.
„According to Education Act, every child should receive a written information within a month since the decision of reorganisation, which cannot be made after 1st May. The local government’s decisions were adopted by breaking all laws possible, and our children still have not received any written decision, we are just suspended in the air. Ten days are left until the beginning of the new school year, and we do not know what school we should sent our children to. Mr. Benkunskas did not deign to inform us how he wants to solve this matter”, says Mirosław Szejbak.
„He is just afraid. He’s just a bureaucrat, who gets paid from our taxes, and he should be there for us, but from the 18. floor of his apartment he acts like and old Soviet agent of apparatus instead”, Szejbak concludes.
The vice-mayor of Vilnius, Valdas Benkunskas, explains in his conversation with Radio Znad Wilii that the meeting wasn’t supposed to cover the topic of schools’ reorganisation but the current issues concerning work organisation.
„For the morning’s meeting I invited the heads of the schools, I underline the word heads. The intended topic of the meeting was discussing how do the schools prepare for 1st September. Because of many people, who introduced themselves as the representatives of communities, chaos arouse. I believed there is no sense in talking in such an atmosphere, so we decided to meet some other time”, Benkunskas explains.
„It is saddening that someone called the parents and representatives of the school councils single-handedly for the meeting that was to be held between me and the headmasters. Working meetings in the local governmnent are quite common, and trying to make it a political issue is both tactless and unmannerly”, added the vice-mayor.
Among others, the representatives of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos lenkų rinkimų akcija or LLRA; Polish: Akcja Wyborcza Polaków na Litwie or AWPL) from Vilnius local government were also present at the meeting.
„Local government gave up the idea of reorganisation of schools. As far as the court proceedings are concerned, I did not intend and do not intend to raise this issue. Since the court proceedings are in progress, the court will answer these questions. I am truly worried, and this is the matter I wanted to talk about, what means do schools use to start educational process to begin smoothly”, said Valdas Benkunskas.
Translated by Klaudia Chmura within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.