BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Several parents of students enrolled in Prelacy Armenian Schools were asked to sign a misleading petition urging the schools to abandon federal, state and county guidelines in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that ensure a healthy environment for children.
An iteration of the brazen petition even bore the letterhead of the Board of Regents of the Prelacy Armenian Schools, creating confusion and anger among parents, who appealed to the Board’s office with complaints.
“It’s fraud,” Sarkis Ourfalian, Esq., the chair of the Board of Regents told Asbarez in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “This is not a Board of Regents action and someone is using our name illegally and fraudulently.”
Saying that the board has received an overwhelming positive response for the safety protocols in place at Prelacy schools, Ourfalian added that the petition was devised “to intentionally mislead the recipients to think that it comes to the Board of Regents.”
“While we cannot stop people from circulating petitions, but the health, well-being of our students, staff and teachers far outweighs anything else,” said Ourfalian who explained that the board has worked long and hard to put in place the guidelines and enforce them. He added that if these guidelines are not enforced, the schools will close.
Ourfalian also said that an investigation has been launched to find out the source of the anonymous petition, adding that the Board already has leads and intends to take all steps to mitigate further disruption of school safety.
In a letter sent to parents of Rose and Alex Pilibos students obtained by Asbarez, the Board of Regents emphasizes that the Covid-19 “guidelines and protocols are not optional nor negotiable.”
“Please be advised that the letterhead is being used illegally without the knowledge and consent of the Board of Regents, in an attempt to mislead our parents. The Board of Regents is taking the necessary measures to address the illegal use of our letterhead,” said the letter.
“We want to reassure you that the Board of Regents remains steadfast in enforcing all local, State, and Federal regulations pertaining to COVID‐19, to ensure the safety of our students, staff and parents. These guidelines and protocols are not optional nor negotiable,” emphasized the letter.
Ourfalian also said that the 2021-2022 academic year has seen the highest enrollment in Prelacy Armenian Schools, boasting a total of 3,141 pre-K to 12th grade students.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, this newspaper has highlighted the success the Prelacy Schools enjoyed in their virtual and distance learning efforts.
The fact that the hundreds of school administrators, teachers and staff worked diligently for countless hours to ensure the continuation of the education of our community’s children and the toll it has taken on them to not only fulfill academic requirements but also to ensure the well-being of the students, this petition and other such efforts hurt and destabilize an already tenuous situation that we are all confronting.
The individual(s) who started this destructive and malicious drive are only advancing the personal agenda of a few, who think that their beliefs supersede the collective well-being of our students and their educators.
In summary, keep circulating your petition so we can get an accurate count of how people desire their children be treated…just without the prelacy letterhead.