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‘Ministry should have dealt with the matter’
Why did Amaida Greaves, the Head of the Science Department at Alexandra School, fail to respond to the letter written to her by Principal Jeff Broomes, which accused her of not teaching?
This was the question posed to President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), Mary-Anne Redman, by Counsel for the Principal, Cecil McCarthy, when she took the witness seat at the Commission of Inquiry into the St. Peter Institution, yesterday.
Redman indicated that there were several reasons why Greaves did not respond, revealing: “When she received the May 24th, 2011 letter, she had already spoken to the Chairman of the School’s Board about the matter. She also indicated to me that when she visited the chairman’s office, he spoke to the Chief Education Officer on the phone in her presence, who said he will get in contact with her. In addition, she was actively engaged with her duties as head of department as examinations were starting and also there was no request for response to the letter.”
She added that during the term while Greaves was teaching she said she could not understand the ‘madness’ that was going on in the department in terms of chopping and changing of the timetable, to bring on persons and to retain persons who were not properly qualified to teach the programme in the department.
McCarthy went on to ask the President whether she agreed with former General Secretary of the BSTU, Patrick Frost, that one of Greaves’ failures and errors was not responding to the letter.
“She could have responded to the letter, but I have explained why she did not at that point in time. Not responding, from her explanation to me, was nothing that she set out to do. It was her honest belief at that point in time, the matter was being handled.”
However, Counsel further pointed out that he did not see any evidence that the Union did anything about the matter until the Principal’s remarks at the school’s December 2nd Speech Day.
“It was reported to the BSTU that the matter was in the hands of the person who had the authority to deal with the matter; that is the Chief Education Officer,” she testified.
She also stated that the Union’s first response to Broomes’ Speech Day statement would have been that it was inaccurate and that he did not have the right to make inaccurate statements like that in the sight and hearing of students of the school, the wider public, and in the presence of the media.
Furthermore, Redman told McCarthy that he should be asking why the officials at the Ministry of Education did not deal with such a serious report.
“Why did no one at the Ministry see it fit to call in the Principal and have the matter address at that level? It is a serious indictment against him as principal and his management practices. If it was in fact true, then he is at fault because he would have allowed a class to remain untaught for an entire term.” (TL)