Two weeks ago, we reported on allegations lodged against Nashi Shehapi, the Director of Kindergarten No.1. Since then, whilst the prosecution has failed to carry out even a basic investigation and Ms Shehapi retains her role, we have been very busy.
Upon further investigation of Ms Shehapi, we discovered that not only does she not hold any relevant qualifications or certifications for her position as Director of Kindergarten No.1, but also she did not get her position via the official channels, i.e. applying for the role and being registered with the online portal.
The lack of her application for the position and the fact she is not qualified for it would suggest that she got the job as a favour or via a connection of some sort. How does one woman who has no experience, no qualifications, and did not apply for the position, end up employed as Director of a kindergarten? Furthermore, it has now come to light that Ms Shehapi, rather than being investigated, suspended, or fired, will be transferred to another kindergarten to take up the same role.
In addition to this, we were contacted by a source who is close to the situation who was forthcoming with information stating that Ms Shehapi had told all staff that she would win the case against her, and that she reminded them that she had the power to fire them all.
This confidence that she would win the case, and her threats of firing people if they are not in line with her, motivated me to pay a visit to the kindergarten in question to find out more.
I arrived one Monday afternoon just after 12pm, accompanied by a fellow journalist who acted as my translator. We waited patiently at the gate until one member of staff approached us and asked us what we wanted. She told us she was unauthorized to speak to us and as the Director “is on holiday”, she would bring the deputy to talk to us instead.
A few moments later, Hatixhe Sallaku came to meet us. The look on her face was cold and she made it very clear that we were unwelcome and that no one within the kindergarten would be able to talk to us. Our requests were refused repeatedly and when I told her I would wait here to speak to staff as they left, she glared at me and walked away. Hatixhe is married to Ermelind Sallaku who paid a visit to the boy’s father, two days after the father visited the Directorate of Education to enquire as to why the case was not progressing. The only way Ermelind could have known that the father of AH visited is if Enkelejda Isaku at the Directorate of Education told Nashi Shehapi that the father of AH was pressing the investigation to be concluded. Ermelind told the father of AH that he didn’t know what the problem was, but that he had been told to ask him to stop the investigation against Shehapi and to let the matter drop. Of course, the father of AH did not comply.
It was then that a parent started talking to us, curious about why we had chosen this kindergarten to visit. After some small talk she told us that whilst the teachers in the school are nice, she is far from happy with the level of education.
She told us that there are only 2 (sometimes 3) teachers per up to 40 children and she worries that the children are not getting enough individual education and that the pace of the lessons is far to slow.
I asked her about levels of discipline and she explained that they are poor because it is impossible to look after and control up to 40 young children at one time, as a result, teachers can become angry and fail to cope with the pressure. I asked her if she had approached the director, Nashi Shehapi with her concerns and she explained that she had, but that nothing had been done and the situation remained unimproved.
Then, the doors to the school were unlocked as parents entered to pick up their children. We made our way inside to try to find someone to talk to, and I managed to locate “the mousehole” when AH indicated he had been locked on several occasions, and where other children were put if they were naughty. This small room is located under the stairs and consists of a door a couple of feet high that opens into a small, low-ceilinged room that smells of damp, dirt, and drains. It appears it is used to store mops and cleaning products, and it is not a place for any young child to be, especially against their will and as a punishment.
During our time in Kindergarten No.1, the teachers were very friendly and polite, but no one, not one person would be seen speaking to us. We had doors shut in our face, and one woman literally ran away with her head down, scared no doubt to be seen communicating with journalists. To be honest, we did not expect anything different. With sources stating that Nashi Shehapi rules with terror and threats, and is abusive to staff as well as children, it was important to visit and have the fact that the staff are scared confirmed to us. Our source told us today that Nashi has returned to work and was furious about our visit, shouting at all of the staff and admonishing them for letting us onto the premises.
But our investigation didn’t stop there. Over the last week we have been communicating with a number of individuals who are both close to Shehapi and the situation, and they have all told similar stories. One such individual described her as “hysterical and aggressive, she has this reputation and everyone knows it”. In addition to this, every individual we spoke to stated that they believed she had assaulted the young boy because this was in keeping with her character and the way she behaved. One source told us that she had abused other children and that staff in the school were desperate for her reign of terror to end and for her to face justice.
So my questions are – how did Nashi Shehapi manage to get a job that she is unqualified for and that she did not apply for? Why is she being transferred to another kindergarten when there are pending allegations of abuse against her? Why is she telling people that she “is going to win the case” before the prosecution has even investigated? Who is the family member she claims to have in the Ministry of Education that is helping her? Why did Enkelejda Isaku tell Nashi that the father of AH had been to visit her? Why did Nashi send Ermelind Sallaku to speak to the father and ask him to drop the case? Why are staff so scared of Nashi? Why does she have a reputation for being “aggressive and hysterical”?