The Public School System went through a lot of turmoil in 2011 but topping the list is none other than the four-day protest held by a Marianas High School teacher-couple against their principal, Craig Garrison, in April.
The campaign to oust Garrison stemmed from what James and Denita Yangetmai labeled as his “arrogant” leadership style and alleged illegal practice of firing some of the school’s teachers.
The street protest in front of the MHS campus organized by the Yangetmais caught the attention of the public and later led to a House Committee on Education investigation on Garrison and his unorthodox leadership style.
The former principal slammed the education panel for entertaining what he described as outlandish and frivolous accusations lodged against him.
While written and oral testimonies to the Legislature crucified Garrison, the principal remained firm and stable at his post through the backing of the Commissioner of Education Rita Sablan.
Garrison eventually tendered his resignation in July, citing irreconcilable differences with Sablan.
Among his reasons was the commissioner’s inaction about issues on equity in schools. His resignation received mixed reactions, not only among PSS employees but members of the community.
With a few more weeks to the effectivity of Garrison’s resignation on Sept. 1, the commissioner placed the former principal on administrative leave, which Garrison labeled as a form of retaliation.
A group of high school students, many from MHS and his former school, Saipan Southern High School, even initiated a signature campaign for the commissioner to reinstate the principal-to no avail.
Since then, Garrison has been scrambling to apply for principal or vice principal positions at any public high school but has not succeeded as vice principal positions have been frozen by the commissioner, citing PSS’ budget concerns.
Garrison is currently awaiting a decision on his Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against Commissioner Sablan.