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Students Hostage of the War Between the School Principal and Her Deputy

They day started at High School N42 of Yerevan after Taras Shevchenko with strikes. Some of the teachers have mobilized around Deputy Principal Shoghik Baghramyan and are demanding the resignation of Principal Eleonora Tumanyan, a Republican party member. She has become known to the public in the scandalous case of collecting votes for the Republicans during 2017 parliamentary elections. The students and their parents have been dragged into the tense relations between the principal and her deputy too. They support the head principal. Epress.am’s reporter spent a few hours at the school, trying to understand the situation.

Eleonora Tumanyan

Eleonora Tumanyan, member of the Republican Party’s board, is the head of the party’s women’s council in Center District. In 2012, she received an honorary mention from the President of the Republican Party, Serj Sargsyan, for her active social-political activities and in 2013 was awarded “Honorary Teacher of Yerevan” medal by Taron Margaryan, former mayor of Yerevan.

Eleonora Tumanyan became known to the public in 2017, for making voter lists for the Republican party during the parliamentarian elections. The case of collecting voter lists was recorded in a telephone conversation and made public.

Despite the fact that almost the entire school, both students and their parents, and teachers participate in the strike, the main issue is between the head principal and her deputy. As a result, the schooling process is paralyzed, the students are deprived of their right to receive education. In addition to this, the participants of the conflict are trying to drag the students to their side.

Epress.am witnessed that the head Principal and her supporters talk to the students and make an agreement after which the students start chanting words of support for the Principal. They are even collecting signatures in her support, while one of the teachers supporting the Deputy Principal accompanied Epress.am’s reporter to several classrooms and interrupted the class, asking who the students are supporting. “You can even do a survey, you’ll see how many students support our side.”

We had a conversation with the head Principal in her very comfortable office. She was saying that this whole thing was organized by the deputy principal and teacher of history Sardaryan, in order to have her sacked. According to her, the intention is to push the history teacher into the post of head principal. Eleonora Tumanyan was also saying that the deputy principal was not carrying out her duties properly, while the history teacher missed classes for 10 days without prior notice. “She went for school principal trainings in order to prepare for principal certification.”

Shoghik Baghramyan

Those teachers that are demanding the Principal’s resignation mention that she has committed a number of serious violations. Namely, there are students who have not been attending school, however they did not get absentees and received graduation certificates with high grades. There is currently a criminal case under pretrial investigation related to this (under Article 325, Part 1 of the Criminal code, Falsifying, selling or using documents, stamps, seals, official forms).

According to the deputy principal, in return for closing eyes on absentees, the Principal received an “envelope” from the parents. “Without an envelope, the Principal won’t do a thing.”

The building of the school is in a bad shape. A number of toilets on various floors are locked with a nail, they don’t operate. The working toilets are in a dismal condition. They say that the students use the toilets of “Yerevan City” supermarket in the vicinity of the school.

“The Principal is saying that we have a scarce budget, however under such conditions, she had a private driver. The driver was documented as a deputy principal and was paid with the money of the school,” says Baghramyan. According to her, the school budget has disbursed money for 4 school clubs, which never held any activities. Only recently did the leader of Informatics club, Roubina Davtyan, voice that she never held any activities, instead she signed in the log-book that she was leading the club. Under the pressure of the Head Principal she resigned from the school.

Baghramyan also insists that the Principal’s daughter-in-law was documented as a staff member in the school, an organizer. For many years, she received a salary, however she never stepped foot in the school, nobody knew her.

The head Principal rebuts and insists that her daughter-in-law was a wonderful organizer, one of the most loved teachers, she spent days and nights at school, “was the most interesting person for the students.”

She too has resigned from the school according to her own appeal. “The students were taken by surprise, they organized a farewell, many were crying.”

Members of the parental committee came to support the head Principal too. They were actively directing Epress.am’s reporter who to talk to and who not to talk to. They were stating that the Deputy {rincipal had created an unhealthy environment at the school, that she normally insults students, she assigns “inconvenient” teaching hours to those teachers with whom she has tense relations. She makes the teaching schedule according to her won will, without taking into account that “heavy subjects need to be taught earlier in the day, so that students have fresh minds.” The parents also mention that Baghramyan had problems in other schools as well from which she was fired.

Representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science were also in the school, they held meetings with both sides. Deputy Minister Lusine Arakelyan suggested to the teachers on strike to prioritize the right of the children to receive education and to restart the classes the next day, while they will try to come to a solution at the Ministry within the shortest possible period.

Lusine Arakelyan

After a long discussion with the Deputy Minister, the teachers accepted her proposal and expressed a willingness to restart the teaching process.