NMI College Students Defend Non-Renewed

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

NMC president previously argued teachers were unqualified

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, June 7, 2013) – Two Northern Marianas College (NMC) students appealed to the Board of Regents yesterday to require its president, Sharon Y. Hart, Ph.D., to provide documentations and proof that will support her decision not to renew the contracts of two faculty members.

Jemma Manibo and Lawrence Camacho, during the public comment period in yesterday's board meeting, also asked the board to reinstate faculty members Larry Lee and Kyle Podziewski if Hart fails to come up with proof.

Hart earlier claimed that their lack of qualifications became the basis for her decision not to renew the contracts of Lee and Podziewski. "For too long NMC has allowed instructors to teach courses for which they aren't qualified and that is one major reason difficult decisions must be made on hiring and contract renewals," she had said.

Manibo told the board yesterday: "Show us documentation that there is a minimum qualification criteria in place. Show us that they are not qualified. And if you cannot show us these documentations, have them reinstated because this institution should be based on what the student needs, not on what the board feels."

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, over 500 have signed a petition seeking the reinstatement of both teachers, alleging that Hart's decision not to renew their contracts amounts to "retaliation." Lawrence Camacho also believes, citing his own termination as Associated Students of NMC president, that the current board lacks transparency and leadership. Camacho claims he was terminated due to questions made about NMC's student programs and institutional operations.]

Besides these two faculty members, Manibo said that students are also appealing to the regents for the protection of other and future instructors of the college who may experience the same situation.

Manibo cited the educational background and other credentials of the two non-renewed faculty to prove his point.

"Mr. Larry Lee holds a Global Masters of Business Administration degree and over 25 years of professional experience in the tourism/hospitality industry in Hawaii, Oregon, Hong Kong, Alaska, the Philippines, and the CNMI. He has been an educator since 1988, and has 10 years of postsecondary teaching experience at a U.S. accredited institution," he said.

Podziewski, he said, has an MA in Teaching Secondary Education as well as an MA in Adult and Higher Education, both from U.S. accredited institutions. He has over five years' experience teaching in K-12, 12 years' experience in postsecondary education with over 18 years teaching ESL and EFL to children and adults in Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, the CNMI, and the United States.

"Good educators should not be released or relieved. They are good instructors who do not just teach, they inspire. They might have a different approach to how a traditional teacher/instructor should be, but this is a college institution. An institution that educates adults and prepare us for how the real world really is. They've made a difference in our education," according to Manibo.

He also posed a series of question for the board.

"If, by some chance, they are not qualified and the board has documentation to prove it, what happens to the students who have taken their class? Are the credits that have been earned invalid? If so, how do we get our money back? Does that apply to those who graduate? Do they have to come back and take the classes that were taught by Mr. Kyle or Mr. Lee? How does NMC plan to accommodate us as far as that class is concern? Do we have to pay for it? Or will NMC have us take the class for free?" he asked.

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