– plans to reopen shortly
Nanda Kissoon, the woman embroiled in a nursing school scandal that erupted in January says that her school is legitimate and is a branch of the School of Nursing University, in New Jersey, USA.
The woman, who said she intends to reopen the school, came forward recently to clear the air on the issue which has been extensively reported in all sections of the media.
It was a recently published Stabroek News article which reported that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had recommended that no charges be laid against her, that prompted her reaction. Stabroek News had made several prior attempts to contact Kissoon but was unsuccessful.
According to an advertisement published in Thursday’s edition of the Chronicle, a copy of which was subsequently supplied to this newspaper, the nursing school “is legal/registered”.
“I hereby notify the public that the nursing school of Cummings St. is registered in Guyana and USA. It is a branch/site location of USA, Est. since 1989, accredited by the US department of Education and has 16 other approvals & recognitions bodies,” the advertisement said.
Further, it stated that “Exams and Certificates are issued from the USA head office, Continuing Education is offered for all graduates. The basis of the Exams is adapted with the American Education Association and the American Psychological Association.
“The School would like to take this opportunity to thank all the students who supported us. Branches of the school are in Trinidad &Tobago, Canada, India and the Philippines.”
There was no name or signature at the bottom of the advertisement.
In addition, an online check of the School of Nursing University, in New Jersey takes one to an after college website that lists jobs available in the medical profession.
When Kissoon had contacted Stabroek News early last week, arrangements were made for an interview the following day. However when the stipulated time approached this newspaper contacted her only to be told that she was waiting on a statement being prepared by her lawyer and when the statement was finished she would do the interview. This never materialized.
A few days later the advertisement appeared in the Chronicle.
In January during a press conference, Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy threatened to go to the police over the school which he called “a skilful little operation” that was posing as legitimate and duping young women across the country. On that occasion he told members of the media that the institution was unaccredited and fell outside the regulation of his ministry.
According to him, the private institution, which he identified as the Inter-American Nursing School was tricking and robbing the young women out of thousands of dollars.
The head of the school, Kissoon, was later arrested by the police and students – young women and men —started to come forward.
After a few days in custody and refunding some students, the woman was released and payouts continued from a home in Duncan Street.
She has insisted that Nanda Kissoon is her only name, though the students had given several different names for her.
When contacted again recently Kissoon said that she was unfairly misrepresented in the media without being given a chance to tell her side.
She said the students made all sorts of assumptions, including what the name of the school was but no one sought to clarify anything with her.
“I felt like if a novel was being written about me,” the woman told this newspaper during the telephone conversation adding that all sort of things were being said that were not true.
Going back to when the school came into being, she said that during August, registration for classes began. Advertisements were also published in the Kaieteur News and the Chronicle, she added.
She said that during this period she and some of her prospective students occupied a booth at a health promotion activity at the National Park. The booth, she said, was provided by the Health Ministry and that Ramsammy even visited it and had his pressure tested among other things while interacting with those present.
She stated that her school was “no big secret” as it was out in the open for all to see. A banner with the name of the institution was also up on the booth, she said.
Ramsammy had said at his press conference that reports had reached him that pictures of him and officials of the school were mounted in the institution. To this, Ramsammy had said, he was known for being a “huggable person”, which is why people can report seeing him “all hugged up with these people”. He referred to the actions of the school’s officials as being skilful.
Meanwhile, Kissoon disputed that she had hundreds of students saying that many were doing two courses so the number looked larger that it really was. According to her she had about 100 students who all knew that the school was an American one with its headquarters located in the USA.
Some of the students, she added, were planning to migrate to the USA, so the certificates they would have received after completing the six-month course would have been a plus.
The woman insisted that she had a signed contract and other documents proving that the school was a legal one. When this newspaper asked to see them, to be satisfied that what she was saying was indeed true, she said that her lawyer was in possession of them.
Asked why she refunded money if her school was legitimate and was to be reopened, Kissoon said that while she was at the police station she was pressured. She made it clear that she was not ordered by the police to pay back any money to anyone. “This refund was not like a demand refund. I haven’t done anything wrong and I haven’t given up,” she stated.
According to her the students, should have first written their examinations and received their certificates, to satisfy their minds before allowing it to reach its present stage.
She stated that all the monies were returned to the students but according to reports reaching this newspaper, there are still outstanding sums. Kissoon stated too that her secretary handled all the finances.
She said that prior to the school’s opening and even after she made several attempts to get information from the Ministry of Education about the accreditation process.
According to her when contact was made with the ministry, she was told that there was no accreditation board. She said that even though the school is not in operation, she is still making attempts to find out what is the ministry’s procedure.
She said that she has since sent a letter to the ministry requesting a meeting.
Over the past few weeks Stabroek News had made several attempts to contact Minister Shaik Baksh on the accreditation issue and the reasons why the board, though named, had not met last year.
The office, located at the ministry’s Lot 69 Brickdam location, has been closed since early last year and the man who ran the office is now attached to the Teaching Service Commission. This newspaper was told recently that a new board has been named but so far it is unclear who the chairman is.