Letter to the Editor: Vice Principal’s parting words to Chuuk State School system

The intent of this letter is to issue my formal resignation of employment from the Chuuk State School System, effective June 19, 2017— But, my hope for this letter is that it ignites a passion amongst my Chuukese friends, both in Chuuk and outside of Chuuk, to stand up and fight for yourselves and your children to have access to a great education. I have been working in Chuuk since 2013, and for the last 2 years, I have been Vice Principal at Chuuk High School. I am not resigning because of my salary or because of the intense heat or because the slow internet. I am leaving because the Chuuk Department of Education is actively stopping the education of children.
The Department that is supposed to support schools is stripping schools of resources, corrupting the use of funds, “losing” paper work, and actively pushing out individuals who desire to see Chuukese children get an education.
I have watched the “reform” of Chuuk Education for 4 years now, and I can honestly say that education as a whole is worse now than it was 4 years ago. Millions upon millions of dollars have been dedicated to “fixing” the education system, but in reality, those dollars have mostly been used to buy favors for the “political elite” and Chuuk State Department of Education employees at the cost of Chuuk’s children. The idea that money is being misused is known by almost all Chuukese, but I am not sure that all Chuukese know the scale to which it is happening, and what it means for their children’s future. I want to be very clear that there is plenty of money available to fund an amazing education system in Chuuk (there is plenty of money for new schools, teachers’ raises, supplies, and training), but the truth is almost none of the money is actually spent in a real way to improve the system.
My experience as an administrator at Chuuk High School showed me that the root of the corruption, and the major factor opposing Chuuk’s children receiving a great education is the Chuuk Department of Education (CDOE) and the Chuuk State Board of Education. CDOE has not provided contractually obligated raises to teachers, but they give themselves raises. They are not fixing the toilets at elementary schools, but they are renovating their air conditioned offices. They are not providing real, applicable training for teachers and principals, but they take almost weekly trips to the other states. They will not approve funds for Chuuk High School to repair their school buses, but they buy themselves $25,000 cars, and give their previous government vehicles to their relatives. They will not provide proper funding for electricity to Chuuk High School, but they are never without power in their offices. They do not pay leave when it is properly submitted, but they take weeks off at a time with zero consequence. Most students do not have a chair to sit in, but the CDOE has brand new furniture. Schools are left without electricity, technology, or supplies of any kind, but the department has countless computers, printers, toner, ink, pens, paper and resources. The Chuuk State Board of Education, the group responsible for overseeing the CDOE is a travesty. Administrators, teachers, and myself have begged for their assistance, but they have done nothing. They are the largest disappointment and ultimately responsible for the terrible system.
They talk big, but never take action. By never taking action, they are collaborating with the easily visible corruption occurring. Several of the board members say they know about the corruption within the CDOE, but they do nothing. They know schools are not receiving necessary funding for supplies and needs, but they do nothing. They know that employees at the CDOE are depriving the children of an education, but they do nothing. For 2 years, I have fought for the education of your children. I have fought harder for them than I have ever fought for anything in my life, but I have learned I am unable to change the system as an outsider. I have learned that in order for Chuukese to get a great education, it is the Chuukese parents that must stand up and say it is time to end the corruption. It is time for you to tell the system to stop making excuses—make change.
I wish to end this letter by acknowledging the teachers, staff members, and Principal, Jason Reigon, of Chuuk High School. Chuuk High School is one of the only true beacons of hope for Chuuk Education, and I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing staff. The teachers, faculty, and administrators of Chuuk High School actually care about the children of Chuuk, and they try every day through whatever means available to help your children. To each of you, thank you for fighting every day for the children of Chuuk. I will miss all of you and pray for you daily to stay strong in the battles ahead.
Sincerely, Andrew Shelton Vice Principal, Chuuk High School

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Letter to the Editor: Pohnpei AG v. Pohnpei CJ

05 JUNE 2017 - There seem(s) to be little doubt (that) the Pohnpei State Attorney General’s office is on an official rampage to derail the Pohnpei Chief Justice from office. First, it flooded the State Legislature with more than a dozen assertions of acts (that) the AG(’s) office deemed (to be) illegal...(that the office considered to be)...misconduct in office.
While the state legislature set about its task to determine (whether) the evidence (was) credible to support (the AG’s) claim of misconduct, the AG upgrade(d) the ante by filing civil action PCA No. 154-17 against the Chief Justice. The grounds alleged in the civil action (were) basically the same as those provided to the State Legislature to consider as bas(e) s for removal of the CJ from office by impeachment.
For its final assault, the Pohnpei AG’s office filed criminal case PKD No. 54-17 charging the Pohnpei CJ with more than 20 counts of violations of laws based on the exact grounds that support(ed) its call for impeachment, and its lawsuit PCA. No. 54-2017.
These three legal weapons, of choice, namely: (1) call for impeachment, (2) lawsuit, and (3) criminal charges, all point to a common goal, the removal of the Pohnpei Chief Justice from office.
It seems, though, that this is not going to be an easy goal on a silver platter in view of the AG’s course of action.
First, it raises a political question. Which branch of the government should remove the CJ(?) Can the Legislature proceed to impeach the CJ when the AG has pre-empted the legislature and filed criminal charges against the CJ? If convicted by the court, that would end the CJ tenure.
Common law dictates that an impeached official is not immune from criminal prosecution, but not the other way around; first prosecute and when (if) convicted, proceed with the impeachment.
For officials that can be removed from office by impeachment, a criminal charge is like a double-edge sword. This is so because conviction of (a) crime has two results: (1) removal from office(,) and (2) penalty for the crime is imposed, while an impeachment effectuate(s) removal from office.
The crux of the problem lies in the identical or same grounds that support both the proposed impeachment and the criminal charges. The Legislature could easily adopt an impeachment and the CJ will then be removed and await trial befor(e) a panel of three state court judges.
The standard of proof in the trial of the articles of impeachment is by preponderance of the evidence, while the standard of proof in the criminal charges is higher, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt...so that the criminal charges may create an impasse to the passage of the impeachment resolution, because adoption of an impeachment resolution means (that) two trials will be held on (the) same set of facts with two different standard(s) of proof.
The impeachment trial require(s) the lesser standard of proof and the criminal trial the higher standard of proof.
But surely, it does seem ludicrous to face two trials for the same set of facts that are (to) be tried under two different standard(s) of proof. It is anybody’s guess on the outcome of such trial, which can occurred only if the legislature opted to impeach the CJ.
These three events (were) fueled originally by the state public auditor report, that resulted in charges against the court’s Administrative officer, and a(n) assistant (C)lerk of court. The court’s AO was arrested under AG instruction, while he was about to board a plane with his wife and children to visit his grandparents in the Republic of Palau.
The court’s AO became distraught and traumatized by the arrest and separation from his family, according to family members, that he died (several months) later. The charges against him (the court’s AO) and the assistant clerk of court were recently dismissed by the court (without prejudice).
It is disconcerting that the criminal charges were filed without a thorough consideration of procedural ramifications of such course of action.
(I) am dismayed at the fact the CJ was not investigated or questioned about his travel advances before the filing of the charges. My cursory review of the CJ travel advances indicated (that) the Dept. of Treasury & Administration had approved all the travel advances.
Joseph (Joe) Phillip

[Editor’s note: As often as possible, I attempt to publish letters to the editor in unedited form even if I personally disagree with the opinions expressed. However, in the case of the above letter I was forced to make some edits while leaving intact, the opinion that was expressed.
I had initially intended to run the item exactly as it was submitted until I was reminded that if a newspaper publishes something when we know that parts of the information are false the newspaper loses it constitutional protections against defamation. In New York Times v. Sullivan, Time v. Hill, and Gertz v. Robert Welsh (1974) the Court, relying on a long line of previous cases further defined publication with malice as “reckless disregard” for the truth to include “subjective awareness of probably falsity.”
The good Mr. Phillip, esquire wrote his letter under the aegis of a group whose articles of incorporation were not accepted by the State government because the name the group chose would be misleading. As submitted, Mr. Phillip’s letter gave the impression that some entity governing all of the attorneys who practice law in Pohnpei agree with his opinion on the subject.
I corrected a statement regarding the amount of time that passed between the AG directed arrest of a court officer and the officer’s unfortunate and untimely death.
The Court did dismiss the case of Ms. Ruthie Hadley but did so at the prosecutor’s request and the dismissal was without prejudice, meaning that the charges can be revisited at a later date.
Most of the other edits I made were for correction of typographical errors, missing words or substantive grammatical errors.
Letters to the Editor are certainly welcome and we will do our best to publish them. Just be aware that we cannot allow defamation or falsehoods to be published under the guise of opinion. It is possible that the person who submitted the above letter believed that all of the information submitted was accurate. Just the same, I still had responsibility to correct what I knew needed to be corrected.]

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K Press Perspective: False Facebook pages appearing for FSM Government elected leaders and appointed officials

Someone has been creating false Facebook pages for FSM government elected leaders and top appointed government officials. It doesn’t seem to be an innocuous, “I had nothing to do, so I created a Facebook page” type of thing. Rather, it seems to be an effort to gain the confidence of unwary Facebook users so that they can draw them into some sort of a financial scam.
The Internet has changed everything. It’s come to the point that some people can’t do much of anything without first consulting sources on the Internet or posting on social media that their feet just hit the ground as they got out of bed, and providing a photo of their feet hitting the ground to prove it.
But be warned, sites on the Internet can be wrong, whether intentionally so, or from malice. They can be disingenuous in the extreme. When some of those fake content sites are called to task, they will often say that their malice is entertainment, as we just saw with the Alex Jones (Info Wars) Custody battle in U.S. news this week.
Blogs and fake news sites on the Internet can take you in if you aren’t careful and vigilant. Some internet sites will prey on your preconceived notions and tell you what you want to hear with the end goal that you will do what they hope you will do. If you aren’t careful, sites on the Internet can steal your identity, your money. If you aren’t very careful, they can even steal the hearts of members of your family.

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