20 May 2019

Liberia: BWI Principal Tarnue Sacked

Mr. Tarnue: "I have no regret for whatever decision my administration took to build BWI's image."

Describes his removal as "illegal, preconceived"

The Board of Governors of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County, has with immediate effect, relieved of his post, the Principal Harris Flomo Tarnue, effective Thursday, May 16, 2019. The board is chaired by John Youboty.

According to a communication, copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, the removal of Mr. Tarnue is based on a resolution of the board, declaring a "vote of no confidence" in his leadership as principal of the institution.

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed Mr. Tarnue with the consent of the board on January 6, 2016, replacing then acting Principal, Alexander Melvin Massey.

Henceforth, the board has appointed one James Walker as acting principal of BWI, pending the appointment of a replacement of Mr. Tarnue.

"Your appointment takes effect immediately, subject to the board's review as it deems appropriate until as such time that President George Weah appoints a new principal," the board said in Mr. Walker's letter of appointment.

Earlier, Education Minister, Ansu Sonii had written a letter to Mr. Tarnue informing of the board resolution declaring a"vote of no confidence" in your leadership as principal of that institution.

"Unfortunately, I have examined the representation of the Board, [through] its resolution, and have come to the conclusion that the matters imposing the resolution are not only significant but grave. While I do consider all of the reasons for the vote of no confidence to be weighty and important, the most recent action on your part to unilaterally register 11th grade students as 12th graders, qualifying them for the WASSCE Examination against the expressed advice of the Board of Governors, is an academic mis-judgment, which should not have happened. This latter action, I believe, overrides the varying others, particularly being embarrassment for a dire affront to the governing authority of the institution, which cannot go unpunished," Minister Sonii said in his letter dated May 16, 2019.

Some of the jubilating BWI students with placards carrying inscriptions denouncing Tarnue's rule.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tarnue has described his removal as "illegal and preconceived event as calculated by some members of the board," something which he challenged, but did not disclose what would be his next course of action.

"I have no regret about any decision(s), which my administration took, while I was serving as the chief executive officer and principal of BWI over the years," Tarnue said.

According to him, there are some people in Margibi and among the board members, "that have witch hunted me over the years, because of the pivotal role I played to the growth and development of BWI."

"My records are very clear at BWI, and I cherish my footprint as I am leaving here today with no regret," Tarnue said.

Shortly after the board's decision, some students erupted in jubilation, chanting the slogans: "Tarnue has fooled us; he must go out, Tarnue fooled us; he must go." One of the jubilating students, Sharry A. Numah, accused Mr. Tarnue of taking away the school's "tradition," which includes proper dress code, as some marks of his "bad leadership."

According to Numah, Tarnue's action to register 11th grade students as 12th graders qualifying them to sit for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), "amounts to academic fraud."

"This is another violation of the student's handbook," the students said.

They therefore lauded the board for the swift decision taken for the betterment of the institution.

For Mr. Walker, the situation created mixed feelings, "because I have worked with Mr. Tarnue, and I found him a very good administrator, who made positive changes on campus."

According to him, the decision of the Board is unquestionable, therefore, it is about time that everyone work together to ensure that BWI move ahead as the center of academic excellence.

"Mr. Tarnue has played a pivotal road in the growth and development of the institute. We are going to begin from where he stopped to move ahead," Walker said.

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