The organization at the center of the Pro-Publica documentary ” More Than Me” has responded to the Government of Liberia initial report in which it said the organization did not have a child protection policy in place until 2018.
More Than Me in a letter to Minister of Gender, Williametta Piso Saydee-Tarr said they are committed to working cooperatively with the Government of Liberia through the investigation being conducted by Joint Ministerial Committee and sincerely appreciate the opportunity to provide information to the office of the minister.
“Based on the reports presented in the November 15th Press Briefing, we realize that we did not provide the necessary documentation to give a comprehensive perspective of our work. I write to provide additional clarity with regard to our policies, staff vetting practices, and student files.”
More Than Me said the Ministry November 15, Press briefing in which it stated that the organization did not have a child protection policy in place until 2018 were false and that the organization did have a policy in place since 2013.
“In the November 15th Press Briefing, it was reported that More Than Me did not have a Child Protection Policy until 2018. This is false. In fact, More Than Me has had a Child Protection Policy in place since 2013.
Read Full Statement below:
Honorable Williametta Piso SaydeeTarr
Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection
1000 Monrovia 10, Liberia
November 19, 2018
Honorable Minister Tarr,
Please accept my compliments and best wishes.
More Than Me is committed to working cooperatively with the Government of Liberia through the investigation being conducted by Joint Ministerial Committee and we sincerely appreciate the opportunity to provide information to your honorable office. Based on the reports presented in the
November 15th Press Briefing, we realize that we did not provide the necessary documentation to give a comprehensive perspective of our work. I write to provide additional clarity with regard to our policies, staff vetting practices, and student files.
In the November 15th Press Briefing, it was reported that More Than Me did not have a Child Protection Policy until 2018. This is false. In fact, More Than Me has had a Child Protection Policy in place since 2013. We received the request for documents on October 19, 2018 and supplied the
requested policies on October 24, 2018. However, we only provided the current policy to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. We deeply regret that we did not provide your honorable office with all of our historical policies for a full understanding of our policy coverage.
While the 2018 version is the policy that is currently in effect, More Than Me’s Child Protection Policy coverage goes back to 2013. As an organization, we periodically review our policies to make continuous improvements. Since our first Child Protection Policy in 2013, we have made three revisions, one revision took place following the lessons learned from the Macintosh Johnson case. The second revision took place in 2016. In September 2017, we began a third review process involving an internal staff committee which led to the revised version that was approved in
2018. In addition to the Child Protection Policy, More Than Me also has a Child Protection and Media Policy adopted in 2015, Whistleblower Policy, Child Protection and Media Policy, Code of Conduct, and Fraternization Policy.
We are providing the below documents to for a more comprehensive view of our policies:
1. Child Protection Policy created 2013
2. Child Protection Policy revised 2014
3. Child Protection Policy revised 2016
4. Child Protection Policy revised 2018
5. Child Protection and Media Policy created 2015
6. Fraternization Policy created 2015
7. Whistleblower Policy created 2015
8. Whistleblower Policy revised 2018
9. Code of Conduct & Disciplinary Policy created 2014
10. Code of Conduct & Disciplinary Action Policy revised 2015
11. Code of Conduct & Disciplinary Action Policy revised 2018
We request that these documents be taken into consideration as you continue your investigation into More Than Me.
In addition to our policies, it was also reported that More Than Me does not conduct robust staff vetting processes. We wish to provide context on how teachers are selected to teach at More Than Me Academy and how we will continue to strengthen these approaches. To select teachers, More Than Me Academy does the following
● Post openings publicly
● Review applications of those who apply
● Create a shortlist based on the application review
● Conduct a first round interview that also includes an example teaching session
● Conduct reference checks by phone
● Conduct a second round interview
Based on the review by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, we will update our HR practices immediately as well as apply them retroactively to all teachers at More Than Me Academy. These practices will include:
● Maintain all application references letters on file
● Maintain documentation of reference checks and keep them on file
● Conduct background checks for all staff at More Than Me Academy
Lastly, inconsistencies in dates of birth for students in our student files stem from conflicting information provided by the parents and guardians of the children we serve. We will conduct an internal review of all student files and conduct the necessary follow up with parents and guardians to correct any inconsistent records with regard to date of birth.
We are grateful for the chance to provide this additional clarity around the points raised during the Press Briefing.
With regards to the false statement regarding More Than Me’s Child Protection Policy and the date when this policy first came into effect, we respectfully request that this misinformation be corrected with the media.
Please do not hesitate to call on us to provide further information as related to this case
Chief Program Office