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Lia Sichinava, a Teacher from Senaki, Intends to Protect Her Rights in Court

05.12.2007
Lia Sichinava, a teacher at Senaki Public School #3, is taking action to protect her rights after the school administration fired her. Her conflict stems from a disagreement with Meri Tsirgvava, the director of the school, and three teachers of Georgian Literature who attempted to appropriate her work schedule. Sichinava had been teaching Georgian Literature courses for 7th, 8th and 9th grade students for the past two years in lieu of the regular teacher who was ill with cancer. She considers the Supervisory Council and school director’s decision to dismiss her illegal and is trying to protect her rights.

Conflict among teachers at Senaki Public School #3 has been ongoing since the death of Manoni Sichinava, a teacher of Georgian Literature. According to the instructor’s will, Lia Sichinava was to replace her. Sichinava continued teaching the late instructors classes since October 15th. The three grades she taught amounted to 15 total academic hours. After Manoni Sichinava’s death, three other teachers from school decided they should share the late teacher’s working hours.

“Rusudan Kvartskhava, Tina Goginava and Nona Skuridini intended to sack me,” Lia Sichinava says. “They started a campaign against me two weeks ago. I was ready to give five hours from my schedule based on collegiality. The argument that those three women had worked before me at school and consequently have more right to share the working hours of the late teacher is unjust.”

Meri Tsirghvava, director of the Public School # 3, tried to mediate the controversy between the teachers at a meeting a short time ago, but none of the parties gave in. The director stated that on October 15th, she had signed a document appointing Lia Sichinava as an interim teacher to replace Manon Sichinava who was on sick leave. “The teachers sought me out several times and requested that they share Manon’s hours,” Tsirghvava says. “They have worked at the school for many years and had only a few working hours. I could share those hours among them earlier but I took the request of the sick teacher into consideration and allowed Lia Sichinava to teach at the school. It is a pity that our colleagues could not reach an agreement. Nevertheless, I also have my personal position regarding the situation. I think that before a new employee is hired the old staff should be given the option of taking the existing working hours.”

Lia Sichinava does not consider herself a new teacher since until Public Schools # 3 and # 5 were joined, she had periodically replaced Manon Sichinava and had been given periodic courses of her own.

Manana Grigolava, the head of the Senaki Educational Resource Center, stated that in these kinds of cases they do not have the right to make any decisions. “We can give only advice and recommendations to public school administrations,” Grigolava says. “We cannot decide anything. The schools are their own legal entities and should make decisions independently. My advice is that they employ Lia Sichinava and give her a certain amount of working hours. I do not think that her request is legal, however, as she is very categorical and has many complaints.”

Grigolova added that in similar cases, the school administration and the Supervisory Council act according to the Law on General Education and the National Tutorial Plan. “The law might not give the exact example of this type of disagreement and may not give the acceptable amount of working hours since such regulation does not legally exist, either. Thus the school administration should consider the moral side of the case.”

At the November 28th meeting of the Supervisory Council at Public School # 3, the teachers in question, Rusudan Kvartskhava, Nona Skuridini and Tina Goginava, demanded their working hours be increased. Nearly 35 teachers attended the meeting. “The meeting was too boisterous,” Lia Sichinava complains. “I tried to help my anger. They were fighting against me and I felt insulted. They were trying to make me give up ten working hours. The director also told me that it would be better to give up part of my working hours in order to resolve the problem.”

The director has not yet signed the document firing Lia Sichinava and her working hours have not been reduced. If such actions are taken, Lia Sichinava will seek legal action to protect her rights.

Nana Phazhava, Zugdidi

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