The International Schools Review has issued a travel and work advisory for teachers intending to visit or work in Kuwait, after a middle school administrator reported a powerful parent was harassing her.
Katherine Phillips of the Al Bayan Bilingual School has been unable to leave the country after an angry, influential parent filed charges of “unlawful imprisonment” against her. Phillips had assigned three fifth graders to in-school suspension last year, after the three were caught fighting in school.
Saying that such harassment is not unusual for teachers in Kuwait, the ISR posted the travel/work advisory on its website, saying in part:
We encourage all teachers/administrators to contact their Kuwaiti Schools, calling for an immediate resolution of Katherine Phillips’ situation, one that will lift her travel ban and allow her to return home to her family.
We further encourage all teachers/administrators in Kuwaiti Schools to consider not returning to Kuwait or honoring their contracts in Kuwait until this situation has been resolved.
The advisory includes Phillips’ original email to ISR, a supporting letter from another teacher who has taught in Kuwait, and a message apparently from a Kuwaiti supporting the charges against Phillips.
ISR sent an email to its subscribers containing letters from Dr. Barbara Spilchuk, a teacher placement advisor at ISR, and from Phillip’s parents in Bahrain. It is reproduced here.
While her plight has not yet made the world mainstream media, both the print versions of the Arab Times and Kuwait Times have covered the story. Meanwhile bloggers like 2:48am, an expat living in Kuwait, are publicizing her situation. Commenters at 2:48am are conducting a lively debate about the issue.
A similar debate at the London Times Educational Supplement, where teachers can exchange ideas, also ensued, but was removed by the TES staff today, since the debate involved a specific person at a specific school, contrary to TES guidelines.
Commenters at TES and 2:48am are debating whether Phillips is the victim of Arab “wasta,” which loosely translated is “having connections with powerful people.” The parent suing Phillips is supposedly close to the emir, and is pulling strings to make her life miserable.
Here’s a comment from a TES commenter, thisismytruth, rescued from Google cache:
I have little doubt that the story is true; wasta used for vituperative purposes like this is nothing new.All of the named personnel at the Embassy are some of the key personnel there at the moment. If Sonny Busa (the Consul) is finding it difficult to extricate Ms. Phillips from this, then the tentacles of the named parent probably must have slipped their way into the upper reaches of the Kuwaiti royal family. We have what I term a Wastapus on our hands.
And this from another, canadashirleyblue,
I am not surprised one little bit.I personally know someone who was arrested at the airport in Kuwait and put in jail. He was eventually deported. He was lucky. His crime was to resign from the school in question within the time frame allowed in the contract. The owner of the school had connections.
Others at 2:48am are on both sides of the wasta debate; some say Phillips should trust the Kuwaiti legal system and not worry. The majority, however, say she is not exaggerating her fears.From 2:48am, by BBS Management:
I am personally involved in this story and I know the details since the start in in March of 2006.To make a long story short, three kids got into a fight and school policy has been enforced on them which is “In School Suspension”.
The school policy is approved by the M.o.Education, and the parents of all BBS students have signed on it.
The parents of the other two kids were appreciative of the corrective measures the school took to discipline thier kids but Mr. al Marzooq couldnt accept the punishment.
A complaint was filed in the police station against the Ms. Katherine, the police ivestigators came to inspect the room that the suspension took place in and found that it’s a corridor between the secertary’s office and Ms.Katherine’s office and dropped the case.
The whole issue surfaced again early June, with an order to detain ms. kathrine. How ? why ? and what exactly triggered the detainment order, it is still unknown, but what is known is that it’s pure vengenace and getting back at a person who was simply enforcing school policy.
The threats are all TRUE, he stated that he will not feel satisfied until she spends a day in jail or gets deported.
This is simply a case of personal vengeance, and pure excersize of power.
To give an example of the craziness, he dragged his 11 year old son to the police station to testify against Ms. Katherine !!!
Contact anyone you can to help this woman out.