ST. CROIX — Following Governor Kenneth Mapp’s decision not to exact any punishment on Department of Education Commissioner Sharon McCollum, following an Office of the Inspector General investigation that concluded Ms. McCollum had “acted inappropriately” and had “used bad judgement” when she used at her home a government-owned generator, without the government’s consent, after Hurricane Irma — Senator Novelle Francis has called for the resignation of the commissioner, placing pressure on the Mapp administration during a crucial gubernatorial election year.
“I don’t agree with the governor’s response to the situation,” Mr. Francis said straightaway at Government House here today, where the senator had attended a portrait unveiling ceremony for Governors Charles W. Turnbull and Roy L. Schneider. “I believe that the commissioner of Education should be beyond reproach, and I believe that she should resign because she has to be an example.”
Mr. Francis added: “Based on what happened she has lost the confidence of her teachers, faculty and staff. Individuals that I’ve spoken to they’re very disappointed in her actions, and I believe that she should resign and set the example.”
The second-term Democrat, who has been championing anti fraud legislation in preparation for the influx of federal dollars set to flow into the territory, felt the need to speak up on the issue. And he also sees a resignation by Ms. McCollum as setting the right example for students, many of whom have been watching the developments closely.
In a release issued today, Mr. Francis said he was “deeply disturbed” by what he deemed Ms. McCollum’s abuse of power. “This is a major lapse in judgment for which Commissioner McCollum has neither apologized or expressed remorse,” Mr. Francis remarked in the release. “As the head of the Virgin Islands’ public school system, I am certain that she would enact swift and significant penalties against anyone in her department who was found to remove equipment from school grounds without proper authorization.”
Today, the Governor Mapp stood by Ms. McCollum, recalling how he had mobilized the commissioner and her team throughout the territory in a bid to reopen school within a month of the 2017 hurricanes. “I will exact no punishment or extract any emoluments from Sharon McCollum for the use of the generator,” he said.
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