Monday 09 December 2019

Minister gives Islamic school board four week ultimatum to quit

The Cornelius Haga Lyceum in Amsterdam’s port area. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Education minister Arie Slob has told an Islamic secondary school in Amsterdam that the entire board must step down, or the government will halt all funding.

It extremely rare for a government minister to intervene directly in a school.

The Cornelius Haga Lyceum has been at the centre of a major row about business malpractice and fundamentalist indoctrination and the city council had earlier threatened the school with funding cuts.

‘I am extremely concerned about the situation facing the pupils,’ Slob said on Monday. ‘All children deserve good education in a safe environment. That is why there needs to be a new board.’

Slob has given the school two weeks to come up with proposals for a new board and one month to implement the changes. Lawyers for the school said they would appeal.

School director Söner Atasoy told RTL Nieuws that the latest move is ‘too crazy for words’. He also condemned the way that the media were briefed before school officials.

Inspectors

In July school inspectors published a report which said the school’s finances were not being properly managed and that money for education was being used for other purposes.

The Haga Lyceum has also been the focus of long-running controversy about its connections with radical Islamic preachers and earlier this year, the AIVD briefed Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema that it was being influenced by ‘undemocratic groups’, prompting her to freeze funding.

The school has taken a combative approach, trying to block publication of the last inspection report through the courts and announcing that a former PVV politician would become interim director as an April Fool’s joke.

It has always denied being influenced by radical elements, and the inspectors’ report found no evidence that it was indoctrinating pupils along Salafist lines.

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