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New IB coordinator will arrive after ten month delay

by Dale Thompson

Where in the world is Abdul Rasool? Come Feb. 28 he will be in Park City.

Abdul Rasool was hired as the International Baccalaureate coordinator for Park City School District in May 2005. The district hoped to have him relocate to Park City in June. However, just shy of 10 months after being hired, he is reporting for work. Following the lengthy delay in obtaining his visa Rasool will arrive in Park City at the end of February.

Rasool comes to Utah from Mauritius, an island off the coast of Madagascar.

According to Merry Haugen, Curriculum Director for PCSD, Rasool’s visa was granted in early January.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R Utah) has played an instrumental role in helping Rasool’s visa application to be processed. According to Tim McConnell, Director of Human Resources for the Park City School District, the U.S. Customs Department was continually asking for more information regarding Rasool’s qualifications.

"We were frustrated in being challenged about him as our choice," McConnell said.

When they complied with a recent request for additional information the paper work included a letter from Hatch. Following that, Rasool’s visa was approved.

"With his experience, Abdul Rasool brings a truly global perspective to Park City’s ambitious International Baccalaureate middle-years program," Hatch said "It would be a shame if someone like Mr. Rasool were unable to contribute to the education of children in Utah because of unfortunate delays and I’m glad I could help Park City’s schools in this regard."

The U.S. Customs Office was slow from the beginning of the process, McConnell said it took several months before his file became active. Hatch’s involvement expedited the process. While the district wasn’t allowed direct contact with the officer working on the file written correspondence is permitted and key letters were sent from the Utah senator’s office.

"I’m very certain that it was pressure from Senator Hatch’s office," said McConnell. "We are indebted to Sharon Garn, she was absolutely critical in getting him here."

Garn is the Director of Constituent Services for Hatch in the Salt Lake office and coordinated with the State Department and Homeland Security to help get Rasool into the country.

"We were able to move some of the delays along," said Heather Barney, spokesperson for Senator Hatch.

She added that helping Rasool is simply part of the job.

"We’re here to serve constituents, and when they contact our office we just do what we can," Barney said.

The Park City Education Foundation is underwriting the position and has dedicated $150,000 over the next two years to cover Abdul Rasool’s salary, teacher training and other expenses.

Lynn Heinlein, executive director for the education foundation, said they wanted to help fund his position after the district made it a priority to integrate the IB program into the two middle schools.

She added that his delay was a bit of a frustration.

"It’s always concerning because of course you want to be able to have them here implementing the program right away," she said.

In spite of delays with the coordinator the school district worked to put the IB program in place.

"The teachers and administrators continued with developing curriculum," Heinlein said.

She is excited that he will be arriving soon.

"We’re looking forward to seeing Abdul and his wife and we hope the community welcomes them," Heinlein said.

When Rasool was hired for the position she noted his dedication to the tenets of the International Baccalaureate Organization.

"We were just very impressed with his passion for international school education," she said.

Rasool has an extensive background in international education. For the past 14 years he was employed at Le Bocage International School in Mauritius, first as a science teacher and later as IB coordinator. He has participated in IB workshops from around the world including in India, Kenya, Nairobi and Kenya.

Hatch believes Rasool is a critical component in the school districts goal to become one of the top 10 high schools in the nation.

"I’m very supportive of Park City School District’s efforts to become one of the top 10 districts in the nation. Park City is a top-notch school district in a state full of top-notch teachers," Hatch said. "I’m confident Mr. Rasool will be a great asset to Park City students. After all, it’s all about the children."


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