DOE Superintendent Underwood Under Threat of Disciplinary Action in Wake of School Bullying Reports

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Guam – The Guam Education Policy Board [GEPB] met in Executive Session for more than 3 hours Wednesday night, on Thanksgiving Eve, to consider disciplinary action against DOE Superintendent Nerissa Underwood.

The Policy Board meeting took place at Jose L.G. Rios Middle School Cafeteria in Piti.

The discussion of  possible disciplinary action against Underwood follows a legislative oversight hearing on Monday and Tuesday of this week during which Senators heard parents, teachers and students discuss incidents of bullying in the schools, and the apparent failure of some school administrators to enforce rules against bullying and failure to hold the students responsible accountable for their actions.

During the Oversight Hearing, many of the allegations were aimed at administrators at FB Leon Guerrero School in Yigo. Superintendent Underwood removed Principal Ulric Mark Wednesday, reassigning him to the central office.

In the wake of that Oversight Hearing, Senator Rory Respicio has accused Underwood of “drastically lacking” in leadership and said if Underwood “is incapable of carrying out her job duties, she shouldn’t keep her job.”

The Policy Board made no decision on any disciplinary action against the Superintendent Wednesday night.

Instead, after the conclusion of the Executive Session, at 9:39 pm, the GEPB reconvened in public session and Board Chairman Ron Ayuyu announced that “the Superintendent did hear all the Board members concerns and we decided to have a special meeting” next Wednesday, December 1st “for personnel matters.”

Superintendent Underwood was present for the meeting and participated in the Executive Session. Afterwards she declined to comment on the details of the “concerns” raised by the Board members, nor would she address questions about what her response to those concerns would be.

Next Wednesday’s special meeting will take place at 6pm in the DOE conference room In Hagatna. The Board at that time will consider Dr. Underwood’s response to the “concerns” raised by the Board members.

“We’re not done, completely, we have to listen to the concern of the Superintendent, her action, and what she’s going to offer to the Board members,” said Ayuyu, “we have to give her the opportunity to give us a response, so we’re going to give her that opportunity to respond back to us.”

Chairman Ayuyu acknowledged that disciplinary action against Underwood is under consideration, but he declined to provide any details on the range of disciplinary actions being considered.

Q: “What disciplinary action is under consideration?”

Ayuyu: “Right now sir  we’re still discussing, were not…”

Q: “Discussing disciplinary action?”

Ayuyu:”Yes, right now. But we’re not doing any…”

Q:”Can you confirm that its against the Superintendent or..?

Ayuyu:”Ah, its, I was, just what I want to say is personnel matters and I will not……”

Q: “Involving the Superintendent?”

Ayuyu:”Yes.”

Q:”Would that also include the Deputy Superintendents as well?”

Ayuyu: “I will not discuss any other information. Because we’re not completely done. We’re just had the Board to discuss their input to the Superintendent. And I guess we did that today to let her know, let her understand that, we are concerned accountabilities with the Department of Education.  And what we say accountabilities meaning health and safety for each and every one of our Department.”

Last July the GEPB gave Underwood a “satisfactory” performance evaluation.