The Lääneranna Municipality Government is demanding Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) revoke the education license of the Metsküla School and change the license of the Virtsu School based on a corresponding municipality government decision lest the latter turn to court.
"I am asking the education minister to comply with her legal obligation and notify the Lääneranna Municipality Government in writing of the revocation of Metsküla School's education license by September 8, 2023, just how the minister revoked the license of the Lõpe School in a directive from September 1," a letter to the ministry by Jane Mets, acting Läänranna Municipality mayor, reads.
"If the Lääneranna Municipality Government has not been notified of changes and revocation of the licenses, it will be forced to turn to administrative court," the document adds.
Mets writes in the address that the Lääneranna Municipality Council decided on March 23, 2023 to close the Lõpe and Metsküla schools from September 1, 2023 and turn Virtsu School into a four-grade elementary school from the same date. The Varbla and Koonga schools will be turned into six-grade elementary schools from September 1, 2024.
The ministry was notified of the decision on February 28 and is obligated, pursuant to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, to notify the sides of reorganization and closure decisions in writing at least five months before the start of the schoolyear.
The municipality also said that parents of children attending the Metsküla and Virtsu schools were not granted preliminary legal protection in court.
Mets adds that minister Kallas' recent social media post where she points out that she has not signed requests to revoke the education licenses of Metsküla and Virtsu schools "sows unnecessary confusion and sends the wrong signal to the public and the parents who are directly involved."
Minister: Law provides no deadline for revoking a school's license
Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas said Tuesday afternoon that she cannot comply with Lääneranna Municipality's demands.
"The law provides no deadline for revoking the education license. The school needs to have wrapped up its activities, and as minister, I need to be sure it has," Kallas said.
The minister said that she does not believe it right to revoke the school's license in a situation where there is no clarity in terms of whether the community and the municipality council have reached an agreement and where the court might still grant preliminary legal protection.
Kallas added that the government has also approved a new support measure for small schools. "For some time, we have been communicating the message that small schools that have up to six grades are a valuable part of the Estonian schools network and that the state will lend local governments a hand in maintaining them already this year, which changes the situation for Lääneranna Municipality."
"In this situation, it is still possible to find a solution where children can attend school and the local government have enough resources to pay for it," the minister said.
Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski