Members of the Past Pupils Associations (PPA) of Uduvil Girls College (UGC) based in the UK, Canada and Australia, in a joint statement, strongly condemn the recent actions taken by the UGC Board and Bishop, Rt Rev. Daniel S Thiagarajah over the forced retirement of Mrs Shiranee Mills as Principal.
The PPA said the move has resulted in the students striking and public discord among the society. Some students have even begun a hunger strike with one student having fainted and being treated at the local hospital’s intensive care.
“It is a fact that UGC had always benefited from being served by her Principals until the age of 70. This obvious past history was completely ignored by the UGC Board and the Bishop, in spite of Mrs Mills writing to the Bishop and the school’s Board, expressing her willingness to continue her service to the school. Mrs Mills was not given any reply to her letter, but the Bishop casually placed an advertisement for a new Principal of UGC on his Facebook page,” the joint statement said.
The PPA said that the manner in which the Board and the Bishop ignored the Principal’s letters, and the contemptuous treatment Mrs Mills was subjected to, indicates the ill-intent of both, the school board and the Bishop.
“Mrs Mills has, through her visionary leadership, selfless dedication and tireless hard work, guided the school to numerous lofty achievements and accolades, not only in the field of education but also in sports, performing arts, visual arts and IT during her 12 year tenure as the Principal. The decision to terminate her services abruptly and so early is, evidently, detrimental to the morale of the students and irreparable damage to the ethos of the School. The continuous protest by the parents and students proves the same,” the PPA said.
The joint statement further noted that all PPAs from around the world, when they learnt of the moves to replace Mrs Mills, wrote letters to the UGC Board and The Bishop, Rt Rev. Daniel S Thiagarajah.
The PPAs outlined valid reasons as to why Mrs Mills’ position merits an extension, requesting that Mrs Mills’s position as a Principal be extended at least for another five years.
“We explained that this would enable her to complete the remarkable process of transformation she has initiated at UGC. These letters were sent out prior to the deadline of accepting new applications for the post of the new Principal. The letters requested a response or acknowledgement from the relevant parties within 7 days. Copies of these letters can be provided upon request. As no response was forthcoming to the letters sent in June, the PPA’s sent follow-up letters to the UGC Board and to the Bishop after three weeks of sending the initial letters, to which we, yet again, received no response or acknowledgement,” the joint statement said.
Mrs Mills was invited for a discussion by the Bishop and his wife Mrs Thayalini Thiagarajah on 15 August 2016. The next day she was informed that her application was rejected and she had to handover her responsibilities and leave the school by 6 September 2016, the day before she turned 60.
On 30 August 2016, a formal announcement was placed on the JDCSI website, informing the appointment of Mrs Suneetha Jebaratnam as the new Principal of UGC. However, there was no mention of Mrs Mill’s termination.
“These acts of totalitarianism by the leadership of The Church of South India, should be exposed to public. This situation must be strongly condemned and immediately redressed by the persons in authority. We strongly affirm that Mrs Shiranee Mills should not have been forced to retire from her position as a Principal. We kindly request you to expose this disparate situation of our school and the individuals who are the instigators of this injustice, as a matter of public interest,” the PPA added.