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Office of Public Relations and Communications

About Us

The Virgin Islands Department of Education’s Office of Public Relations and Communications exists to heighten the public’s awareness of the Department’s mission to ensure that all students are prepared for college or the career of their choice upon graduation from high school.

In support of the mission, the Public Relations Office provides publicity for events, activities and the many successes of the Department’s schools, students, teachers, employees and leadership through internal and external communication.

The Office of Public Relations and Communication, through an integrated marketing communications approach services the marketing, branding, public, and media relations, advertising and graphic design needs of the Department, districts, and schools.

The Public Relations Office reports directly to the Commissioner of Education.


2022-2023 Parental Satisfaction Survey Launches March 20

ST. THOMAS, USVI – The Virgin Islands Department of Education, State Office of Special Education, will launch its annual Parental Satisfaction Survey territory-wide beginning Monday, March 20, with the goal of collecting data about the level of parental approval of Special Education programs and related services provided by the Department. 


The survey, which will be conducted in a safe and confidential manner, will engage parents and guardians of children and youth ages 3-21 with a disability. Survey results will be used to assist the district offices of Special Education with improving services provided to the targeted +5population and their families, and furthermore, bolster the State Office of Special Education in its ongoing commitment to improve the overall academic and functional outcomes for children and youth with disabilities. 

The University of the Virgin Islands’ Eastern Caribbean Center will facilitate the questionnaire through telephonic interview. 

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Renee Charleswell, who oversees the annual effort, encourages parents and guardians to participate. 

“We would like to thank you for your time and participation in this important data collection activity,” she said. “Let’s continue to improve outcomes for children with abilities.” 

For more information, contact the State Office of Special Education offices at (340) 774-0100 ext. 8804 or (340) 773-1095 ext. 7087.  

All data collected with be absent of all personally identifiable information consistent with §300.32 Personally identifiable. Personally identifiable means information that contains— (a) The name of the child, the child's parent, or other family member;(b) The address of the child;(c) A personal identifier, such as the child's social security number or student number; or d) A list of personal characteristics or other information that would make it possible to identify the child with reasonable certainty. 

§ 300.610 Confidentiality. The Secretary takes appropriate action, in accordance with section 444 of GEPA, to ensure the protection of the confidentiality of any personally identifiable data, information, and records collected or maintained by the Secretary and by SEAs and LEAs pursuant to Part B of the Act [IDEA], and consistent with §§ 300.611 through 300.627.  



Download press release here:  pdf 2022-2023 Parental Satisfaction Survey Launches March 20 (203 KB)

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Groundbreaking Ceremony Marks Start of New Arthur A. Richards School Construction

ST. CROIX, USVI – The Virgin Islands Department of Education held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, February 23 to announce the start of the $159M construction of the new Arthur A. Richards PreK-8 School, marking the first time in nearly three decades a school has been built in the Territory. The 145,000 sq. ft. school, which will feature state-of-the-art learning spaces, will be located at the site of the former Evelyn M. Williams Elementary School. 


Education Commissioner Dr. Dionne Wells-Hedrington expressed her joy in the significant milestone the day represented.  


“It’s been a long road to get to this point and in the wake of two back-to-back storms, we have been presented with the opportunity and the resources to make this day possible,” she said.  


Commissioner Hedrington thanked the New Schools Construction Advisory Board, MCN Build, DLR Group, Witt O’Brien’s, and Department of Education staff, including Architect Chaneel Callwood-Daniels, for their tireless efforts toward the department’s transformation. She hailed the day as not just an opportunity for the Department of Education, but for the St. Croix community and its children.  


“The new Arthur Richards PreK-8 School will set the bar for schools across the Caribbean, allowing us to transform today’s learners into tomorrow’s leaders,” she added. 


Governor Albert Bryan Jr reminded attendees of the perseverance it took to realize this dream and implored them to remain focused. 

“Seven years ago, we had no idea what we were going to do with this site, and here we are today, getting ready to break ground on the first new school in thirty years,” he said. “It has taken a long time to get to this point and we have so much more work to do. So today, as we dig this earth, let’s make a solid promise to ourselves that we are going to be part of the team focused on moving the Territory forward.” 


Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien also praised the commitment of federal partners to appropriately invest in the territory. “Today’s ceremony could not have been possible without the partnership and collaboration of all stakeholders, my staff, FEMA, Delegate Plaskett, DPW, VITEMA, VIHFA and the allowances of the Bipartisan Budget Act.  


Dir. Williams-Octalien went on to explain that presently, “FEMA has approved the replacement of seven schools in both districts, to include the Claude O. Markoe School in Frederiksted. We are grateful for the opportunity afforded to us by our federal partners, not just to rebuild, but to transform the Territory’s education system and provide an environment for our children to learn, develop, and grow.” 


Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett commented on her role in Congress’s fiscally responsible decision to ensure that monies for demolition, construction and all associated costs were set aside to rebuild Arthur Richards the right way. 


“With the support of our partners working collaboratively in our roles, we have collectively pushed to secure over $209 million just for this site, ensuring that the Territory receives what we rightfully deserve to rebuild,” she said. 


The Department of Education has employed the services of top architecture and design firms for the planning, layout, and construction of the new school. Working closely with the Department and Witt O’Brien’s, DLR Group—an integrated design firm delivering architecture, engineering, interiors, planning, and building optimization for new construction, renovation, and adaptive reuse—led the VIDE’s educational facilities plan in 2020 that sets the standard for constructing 21st century learning spaces in the USVI. Furthermore, the firm created the Arthur Richards bridging documents that would lead to the procurement of design-build contractor, MCN Build.     


The MCN/Perkins Eastman Design Build team will now advance DLR’s concept design and bridging documents, with the goal of bringing the Arthur Richards project to substantial completion by July 2025. The team consists of Perkins Eastman, local architectural firm Jaredian and local builder GEC. MCN and Perkins Eastman have worked together for the past 13 years, delivering 16 successful school projects. Perkins Eastman Architects, DPC, is an international planning, design, and consulting firm whose passion is to improve school facilities for educational clients through the incorporation of each institution’s unique core values, goals, and mission. MCN Build has built more than $2B of K-12 school construction. 


To learn more about the Arthur A. Richards PreK-8 School and the Department of Education’s plan to build new schools in the Virgin Islands, visit


Download press release here:  pdf Groundbreaking Ceremony Marks Start of New Arthur A. Richards School Construction (1 KB)

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Use of Woodson Front Lawn Discontinued for Students Due to Safety Concerns

ST. CROIX, USVI – Citing safety concerns in the wake of a BB gun drive-by shooting incident on Feb. 16 that left seven John H. Woodson Jr. High School students with minor injuries, Principal Henry Mark announced at a parent meeting on Friday, February 17 that students would no longer be allowed to congregate on the front lawn of the school during their lunch period and for other recreational activities. 

“Students use our front lawn to eat their lunches, socialize and play with their peers, but we have to make changes, and the changes will be in effect today,” he said to the auditorium of approximately 150 parents. “Students will no longer be able to go outside [on the front lawn] during their lunch period. They will remain in the campus, in the courtyard area, the cafeteria area, in the front office area, in the auditorium, as well as in the library area.” 

Furthermore, Mark said the school’s exit gate will remain closed after school buses depart the campus in the morning, only allowing for the campus’s main gate to remain open during the school day. He also said the school’s visitation policy will be updated to provide more information on how school lockdowns are managed. 

“Our primary goal at John H. Woodson Jr. High School is the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and we will take whatever measures we need to take in order to achieve that objective,” he said. 

Education Commissioner Dr. Dionne Wells-Hedrington offered an impassioned plea to parents and the public, saying that she “won’t stop” until the suspects are caught. She pointed out that the Woodson decision could also be enacted territory-wide due to the open design of schools. 

“This is a serious day in the Virgin Islands, one that we don’t take lightly,” she said. “Commissioner Martinez may not know me well, but he’ll get to know me well soon. I’m not stopping until someone gets arrested, and we all need to take that stance.” 

Commissioner Wells-Hedrington went on to say, “It bothers me that this community has not come forth yet, even with the description of that vehicle. That bothers me because it says to me that people are turning a blind eye and that they don’t want to be involved when we’re talking about the safety of our children. That’s not good. That speaks volumes for all of us here today because we cannot accept that. Our children should be able to congregate in their schools without any issues.” 

During a question-and-answer period of the meeting, some parents expressed their fear of having their children return to the campus. One parent, who said she has tried to prepare her children for emergency situations at school, said her son was grazed by one of the projectiles. 

“Only when he got home and took off his jacket, that’s when we saw an injury to his elbow area,” she explained. 

Other parents voiced their desire to receive text alerts, the need for video surveillance on school campuses, and have access to the school’s emergency response plan. 

Police Commissioner Ray Martinez echoed Commissioner Wells-Hedrington’s call for the public’s help. 

“Me getting the call that our chiefs and deputy chiefs are sending our tactical team to a school for a school-based shooting, I can tell you that I felt helpless because I was still on St. Thomas,” he said. “As I stand here today, what do I tell you, what do I tell these students who are traumatized because two idiots thought it was cool to drive by a school and fire into a crowd of children. I am mad.” 

“There are two places where our kids are supposed to be safe—at home and at school,” he continued. “This shows that the fabric of our community continues to deteriorate for us to have things like this occur. If you have information and your kids are telling you stuff, put in the call to us. Give us the opportunity to do what we need to do.” 

VIPD released a video update early on Feb. 17 with a description of the car and suspects: a white Acura TSX or TLX with silver rims, damage on right side, two suspects, one wearing a black hoodie. See video here: (16) VIPD update on Woodson School BB Gun Incident on Feb. 16, 2023 - YouTube 

The Department of Education’s Crisis Team, in collaboration with other partners, was activated at Woodson Jr. High to conduct small-group sessions with students. Woodson’s counseling team will continue to provide services to students in the weeks ahead. Students and staff in need of more intensive or private consultation will be given support. The Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Division will deploy its mobile unit to Woodson’s campus beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 21 to provide additional services. 

The Governor’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention, St. Croix District and school safety leaders also participated in the meeting. 

Anyone with information that can help solve this crime is asked to call 911 or (340) 778-2211 ext. 6140. 


Download press release here:  pdf Use of Woodson Front Lawn Discontinued for Students Due to Safety Concerns (191 KB)

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St. Thomas

1834 Kongens Gade, St. Thomas, VI 00802
Phone: 340-774-0100

Curriculum Center:
Mon – Fri:  8AM – 5PM


St. Croix

2133 Hospital Street, Christiansted, St. Croix, VI 00820
Phone: 340-773-1095

Curriculum Center:
Mon – Fri:  8AM – 5PM

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