Board of Education President Dismissed Over Dispute about Nosara Soccer Field

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The Nicoya Municipal Council decided to suspend Lidieth Prendas Hernandez, the president of the board of education at Serapio Lopez School in Nosara, for having illegally created a sports committee.

The council’s decision was approved during their session on December 18, 2013, following an investigation by a governing body formed by the municipality to look into the case.

In May of 2013, the body received a report from the regional office of the Ministry of Education in Nicoya. It stated that Prendas Hernandez “accepted authority that didn’t belong to her,” violating legal principles established in the constitution and general public administration laws.

The investigation came about because of a complaint filed by Marco Avila, president of the Nosara Development Association (ADIN – Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Nosara), wherein he expressed his concern regarding possible anomalies in the board of education.

Article 166 of the municipal code states that the canton’s sports committee has the exclusive right to name community sports committees. Regardless, the board of education at Serapio Lopez School elected a sports committee during an assembly on December 5, 2012.

Prendas Hernandez presided over that meeting and also gave formal control of the soccer field to the new committee so they could manage it, according to the minutes of the sports committee.

In her defense, Prendas Hernandez explained that she did not act as president of the Board of Education nor by her own wishes in naming the sports committee. Instead, her name and position appear in the minutes because the meeting’s organizers considered it important.

“As the field wasn’t my responsibility or the board of education’s, I spoke with the people interested in participating in the administration of the field so they could meet and take the relevant steps. That is why I was present and was mentioned in the minutes, and I clarified that I wasn’t going to name anyone,” stated Prendas.

For his part, before resigning in 2013, Victor Julio Madrigal Leal, the former director of Serapio Lopez School, wrote in a document sent to the regional office in Nicoya on March 4, 2013, that, “This sports committee is the community’s, by decision of the residents and not the Serapio Lopez institution.”

In August of that year, Otis Rosales took charge of the school and assessed the job performed by Prendas as “excellent during the time she was president of the board of education.” However, Rosales preferred not to discuss the causes that led to Prendas’ departure.

Field’s Administration Creates Discord

The main reason for the conflictis the control and administration of the soccer field located next to Serapio Lopez School. In 1971, the field was given to the school’s board of education by the now-defunct Land and Colonization Institute (ITCO – Instituto de Tierras y Colonización), according to a copy of the property’s land survey plan to which The Voice gained access.

However, in both the deed and registered land survey plan, the soccer field does not appear in the name of the board of education.

On that subject, Marco Avila stated that ADIN has started the possessory information process so that the field can be counted as an asset of the association, to protect it from “abuse by third parties.”

In addition, Marco Avila assured that the intention of Prendas Hernandez and the members of the committee was to charge money for the use of the field. He recalled that during the Festival of Light in 2012, ADIN wrote a check in the amount of ₡44,000 ($88) to Susy Avila Alvarado, treasurer of the sports committee, to rent the field during the event.

Nevertheless, Susy Avila explained that all the funds that they have received are to pay electric bills for using the field at night, as well as the chopping and maintenance, and that they have never charged rent for the field.

“Mr. Enrique Cordero gave us the keys to the field two weeks before the beginning of the Festival of Light. When we formed the committee, they gave us [control of] the field with four overdue electric bills. We had to first pay those and then repair the electric system,” stated the treasurer.

Susy Avila said she felt bothered by the dismissal of Lidieth Prendas, as she feels that the work she did as president of the board of education was very good and that it was reflected in various projects around the school, including the installation of new drainage systems for sewage and roofing for some of the school’s pavilions.

In addition, she stated that they have never had communication with the canton’s sports committee, nor has a representative taken interest or come to the community to give support.

Susy Avila reported that the Nosara Sports Committee is made up of seven community members, that it continues to be active and administer the field and that they meet three times a month in Nosara’s library.

With the departure of Prendas Hernandez, the school’s board of education is now led by vice president Cristoph Hubmann.