• November 4, 2015
  • 251

The Polish school in Vilnius does not give in

We previously wrote that, two weeks ago, on 20th October, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court adopted a ruling that is unfavourable towards the Polish Szymon Konarski Secondary School in Vilnius.

The judiciary defeated a motion made by the Polish community asking for the repeal of Vilnius council’s resolutions of 29th July 2015. And on the strength of this denied motion the capital authorities are attempting to downgrade the status of the school from secondary school level to primary school level.

On Tuesday 3rd November the school appealed against the verdict of the court; it sued over the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania.

“The court verdict is unlawful, unfounded, and so it should be repealed,” said former student and Szymon Konarski Secondary School spokesperson Paweł Nowicki. School supporters who agreed with this statement include Joanna Markowska, the school council chairperson, and pupils and parents.

The appellants also claimed that the court had not taken into consideration the facts that proved the selective nature of the resolution adoption choice of the council. It has been highlighted that both the court and the city authorities seem intent on making decisions that are always unfavourable for both the school and its students. “It proves that resolutions are passed hastily and against the interests of the school and students,” the appellants pointed out.

The 11th and 12th grade students from the Szymon Konarski Secondary School were to attend the Adam Mickiewicz Secondary School in Vilnius, while the 5th grade pupils of the latter were to be moved to the Konarski School. Currently the Mickiewicz School educates former 11th and 12th grade students of Konarski School (former Konarski School students are now Mickiewicz School students, with former teachers working in this school as well). However, the 5th grade students have yet to be moved to the latter school.

“The court mentions that the native (Polish) language teacher of the current 12th grade students, a teacher who taught in the school from the 5th grade up, has, without justification, not been given permission by the defendants [the Vilnius council and local government administration; editorial note] to take an additional job at Mickiewicz School (delay in the decision-making); however, it does not take this fact into account. Further, the interests of the students have not been taken into consideration – this can be seen with the near impossibility of appropriate preparation for the final exam. Students have been preparing for this final exam for so many years, on the basis of a specific curriculum in their native language, but disregard has been shown for this preparation,” the appellants claimed in the petition.

In the petition the representatives of the school community also raised the point of the right to delay the school reorganization process. They added that, in fact, the authorities exercise this right themselves – they delay the process for particular schools. “However, in the case of the Szymon Konarski School this transformation has not been postponed, although it is explicitly contradictory to the interests of students (a change of a teacher, going to another school to use the services of a counsellor, tutor or psychologist, etc), while the suspension of the transformation process would make it possible for the students to finish school in the least disruptive way. The court does not explain such discrimination of the school,” the appellants wrote in the petition.

They apply for a repeal of the resolution of the court of first instance (20th October 2015 decision) and want a repeal of the validity of the Vilnius council resolutions as for the part concerning the school transformation from secondary level status to primary level status.

Translated by Karolina Katarzyńska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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