Parents hit at mass sackings by school board

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2011, 12:00am

The row over a boardroom coup at the prestigious Chinese International School has escalated as a group of disgruntled parents has started to raise questions about the mass sackings.

The parents - who have children studying in years 7 to 13 - denounced the manner in which two dozen of its foundation's members were dismissed, including a popular co-founder of the school, Nelly Fung. The parents also questioned why the Braemar Hill school is expanding into the mainland.

'We feel it is unethical and disrespectful to dismiss our founding members only by mail, [with] no personal gesture of a parting,' said the parents in a statement sent to the South China Morning Post.

'The explanation from our board to the school is disappointing and defensive. [The] reason [given] for the dismissal of the foundation members is because of their growing size, [but] it did not mention the benefits of cutting the size of the foundation, and also consideration for the huge loss of disassociating CIS with these influential parties.'

The mass dismissals took place a year ago, but Fung said that after exhausting all communication channels, she and several others had finally decided to speak out against the school board's decision early this month. Fung and several others have demanded to be reinstated. Since their public statements, more parents unhappy with aspects of current school management have voiced support for Fung's side.

Those removed from the foundation included Victor Fung Kwok-king of Li & Fung, the global sourcing company; Peter Woo Kwong-ching, chairman of Wheelock and Wharf; an official representative of the Jockey Club Charities Trust, which provided HK$70 million for the construction of the school's campus in Braemar Hill; Selwyn Mar, former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Professor Felice Lieh Mak, head of the Medical Council and former chairwoman of the English Schools Foundation; former chief secretary David Akers-Jones; and Nigel Rich, a former taipan at Jardine Matheson. The school said the dismissals were necessary because there were too many foundation members who were no longer active in managing school affairs.

In the same letter, the parents questioned how money collected in various fund-raising exercises was being used, including the construction of the CIS China Centre in Hangzhou . The official plan is to send all Year 10 students to study at the Hangzhou centre for a year once construction is completed.

'Our school has raised millions just in two years,' the letter said. '[The] majority of the money was spent in China for the new CIS China Centre, only to benefit our Year 10 [students]. There is not enough justification to spend so much money on just one year group, with no transparency of how or where the board uses the money.'

The school declined to comment on the concerns being raised by the parents. But in an earlier response, a school spokeswoman said an inspection team from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and its Council of International Schools rated the work of the board highly in a report in November last year.

Referring to the China Centre, she said: 'The centre is progressing well according to plan and offers a groundbreaking learning opportunity for our students.'


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