TOFOL, Kosrae - In a court hearing spanning two days that would decide the fate of what many have considered to be radical and beneficial changes to Kosrae High School (KHS), Principal Paul Hadik and the State of Kosrae as Defendants walked away breathing a temporary sigh of relief.
Justice Aliksa Aliksa, ever patient and at times exasperated throughout the proceedings that sought the removal of Hadik through a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on his appointment as Principal last August by Director of Education, Henry Robert, ruled unanimously on a host of issues to allow Hadik to remain within his post for the duration of the school year.
Aliksa, in his ruling from the bench at the conclusion of closing arguments by counsels for the Plaintiff, Canney Palsis out of the Micronesian Legal Services office, and the Defense, Attorney General Arthur Buck, said that the overriding factor in his decision not to grant a temporary restraining order that would in effect oust Hadik as principal, was the detrimental effect it would have on the students, who in this case, represented the public interest.
What, if any," stated Aliksa to the counselors and the courtroom onlookers," irreparable harm can occur by granting the TRO? First and foremost on my mind are the students," he stated. Seniors are set to graduate in less than a month."What then is the public interest in this case?" asked Aliksa, weighing one of the essential components of any TRO hearing. "The public interest here is to keep the school going without chaos or disruption - to allow it to come to a successful end."
The Plaintiff in the on-going case that asserts FSM citizens should be given preferential hiring treatment for classified positions within the Public Service System is Wilson Allen, who currently serves as KHS Vice Principal. Allen has maintained from the beginning - the initial complaint was filed in August of 2004, shortly after Hadik was hired over four other certified Kosraean candidates - that in order to maintain the integrity of local institutions and positions, Kosraeans and other FSM citizens and residents must be chosen to fill key positions when they are qualified.
Allen has maintained in his filings with the court and also on the stand during the TRO hearing that this is his last, best chance to become Principal of KHS. The courtroom was filled to capacity on both days with government officials, a host of high-level witnesses, interested citizens and a throng of KHS students - mostly seniors. On day one, almost eight months and countless delays since the last court action in the case (see the Micronesian Alliance headline story in Volume 1, Issue 2, "School Personnel File Lawsuit to Remove Principal") Plaintiff Allen sat next to Palsis as Defendant Hadik sat in between AG Buck and State Prosecutor Paliknoa Welley across the courtroom.
Palsis called a number of witnesses. Amongst them: Hanson Sigrah, Chief of Curriculum Development for the Kosrae Department of Education (DOE), Alister Tolenoa, Chief of Instructional Services for Primary and Secondary Educationů.
Governor Sigrah sat through the entire two-day proceeding and was the final witness called. Many of the question and answer sessions between the lawyers and witnesses revolved around changes that have occurred since Hadik took over as Principal at the beginning of the school year, a tweaking of a decade-long status quo that has been the cause of friction within the upper ranks of the DOE and Hadik. Hadik immediately set about to make KHS, in his own words, "the best public high school in the FSM," cleaning up the campus, hiring a handful of American teachers to assist in his new Advanced Placement program, giving extra attention to students who had promise but were struggling, releasing students who continuously were disruptive or missed classes and providing a lunch period for the students so that they could eat and relax for a short period of the day. Hadik also set about to get teachers to perform at as high a level as possible.