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Paradise Primary students ignored amid drama over lease – PTA

Paradise Primary students ignored amid drama over lease – PTA


President of the Bequia Paradise School PTA, Devvy King-Ollivierre, says students have been forgotten as the standoff between the island’s Rotary Club and trustees of the Lower Bay School (LBS) property continues.{{more}}

Sabrina Mitchell, an owner of Paradise Primary — a private school — told SEARCHLIGHT last month the school is at risk of closing if it does not relocate ahead of the new school year, on September 3.

Mitchell and Rotary Club president Clayton Ollivierre have each shown SEARCHLIGHT what they say is a valid 99-year lease for the LBS the school and the club each signed with the trustees.

But Mitchell has also said Paradise Primary is the only legitimate lessee; the Rotary Club has refused to hand over the property.

The Rotary and the Trustees have hired lawyers, suggesting that the matter is heading to court.

“I think that the children have been lost in all of this drama,” King-Ollivierre told SEARCHLIGHT in Bequia on Sunday.

She said people have forgotten that Paradise Primary needs the LBS property to educate children.

“… it is a sad situation,” King-Ollivierre, who also teaches at the school, further said, as other parents and teachers waited to opine on the development.

“It’s just a pity that all this bickering has to be played on their life,” King-Ollivierre, who said she was “very worried” because her son also goes to the school.

King-Ollivierre said it seems that the deadlock is because of Rotarians’ “personal grievance” with former prime minister Sir James Mitchell and his family, and politics.

Sir James last month rescinded power of attorney on behalf of Marie Kingston, a Canada-based LBS trustee who has since returned to Bequia because “these delaying tactics (reportedly by

the Rotary) have driven me crazy,” she told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday.

King-Ollivierre said Sir James “has no personal gains” from Paradise Primary and his daughter cannot change her kin.

“I just want it to end where everybody can gain from that building,” King-Ollivierre said, adding that the Rotary Club, Paradise Primary and a karate club can share the space.

She, however, did not say whether Paradise Primary or the Rotary would hold the lease or if they would have joint legal tenancy.

Patrice Woodley, another parent said the “bickering” is not centred around the Rotary, but its president.

She cited letters lawyer Grahame Bollers wrote on behalf of the club president.

“It is stated only around Clayton [Ollivierre]. If it is the Rotary that is fighting this case, why isn’t the letters stated around the Rotary Club of Bequia?” she said.

She said Paradise Primary — listed as a non-profit company — is not a money-making venture, but admitted that she has not seen its financial records.

Mitchell said the 62 students at the school each pay tuition fees of $400 or $500 per month.

Some Paradise Primary teachers who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT on Sunday said teachers there get monthly salaries of between $1,000 and $1,500.

“Even if they (owners of the school) are making money, they are investing it back,” Woodley added.

“Put this bickering behind and leh we think about the children. Forget about Sabrina and the Mitchells and leh we get the school up and running,” she further stated.

Some of the parents said they do not know what they would do if the school closes. But others were decided that public schools on the island were not good enough for their children.

“Me personally — Keisha John, I wouldn’t send my child to the public school. If I have to move to the mainland to get my child [to] get an education I will.”

John further said one of the public primary schools on the island is “divided”.

“Political, religious, you name it, it’s there,” she said. “And my child, coming from what they are phrasing it, an elite school, I think my child will suffer, he will be neglected.

“So, I will go all out and I will fight the fight to the very end for us to get a place to place the Paradise Primary School,” John told SEARCHLIGHT.

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