Tag Archives: Alexandra School Dispute

Industrial Climate In Barbados Heats Up As a General Election Approaches

Thanks to traditional media for helping us to do a pulse check of the industrial climate in Barbados today (7 January 2013).

  • The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) has threatened to shut down the country if LIME refuse to return to the negotiating table after sending home 97 workers last week.
  • Jeff Broomes has been reported to be on sick leave suffering from hypertension and did not report to his new posting today.
  • BSTU reports that the 18 teachers will report to headquarters until the ministry of education withdraw the transfer letters.

Poor Judgment by Public Service Commission

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The supposed conclusion to the long-running Alexandra debacle appears to have caused more problems than it would have solved. Some might argue, and I am tempted to agree, that the resolution imposed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) has solved nothing. It would appear that the PSC attempted to settle the internecine warfare that was being waged for years by awarding neither side a victory.

The cowardly solution has resulted in over twenty teachers, including all but one of Alexandra’s management team, being transferred and scattered throughout the Teaching Service. It has proven to be unpopular with a majority of those involved in this unsightly mess. Also, it would appear that the PSC did not consider or paid blatant disregard to the harm their actions would be inflicting on the students who are about to take examinations. The teachers will get over the effects of the transfers with time; but the harm inflicted on the children is potentially devastating on those 4th, 5th and 6th form students whose future could very well be affected.

The harm to the education system and the children aside, the justice system in this country could be irreparably damaged by the fallout from the ill-advised actions of the PSC. The Waterman Commission made recommendations for limited transfers, but unfortunately, the PSC went overboard and transferred/punished most, if not all, of the teachers that appeared before the commission of inquiry as witnesses.

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Alexandra School: "Separation" and Sacrifice

Submitted by Yardbroom
Ronald Jordan reacts to his transfer to Alexandra - Image credit - Nation

Ronald Jordan reacts to his transfer to Alexandra – Image credit Nation

I wonder how many of those teachers, who assiduously canvassed for the Head to be “separated” from the school, thought that they too would be separated, and if they did, why did they fight with such alacrity [eagerness]?…I have only posed a question.

The general idea from the present Government’s perspective was to solve a major problem and this up to a point they have done. The main players are no longer at the school, the school has an opportunity to do what it is mandated to do…teach children and thus move on.

Many of the major participants will never be the force they once were and some at the end of careers, will be remembered for things they would rather forget.

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Alexandra Solution or Confusion?

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me – Pastor Martin Niemoeller

They have come for Jeff Broomes, and as a trade unionist, I must speak out before they come for me. From the outset, let me state that I am not defending Broomes because I think that he is guiltless. In Barbados, everyone, even Jeff Broomes, is innocent until he pleads guilty or guilt is established after a duly constituted body makes that determination after hearing the evidence, and giving the accused the right to be heard. I am therefore concerned that the Public Service Commission (PSC) has taken steps against him, under the guise of a transfer, before it follows the rules in order to establish his guilt or innocence.

The Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) has achieved its goal of separating the Principal from Alexandra School; but they have nothing to rejoice about when you consider the way it was done. I hope that the membership of the union is sensible enough to condemn the method that was adopted by the PSC. BSTU should vociferously disassociate itself from the denial of due process to Mr. Broomes. Even murderers who kill in front of witnesses are given the right to be heard before sentence is pronounced. In essence, he has fewer rights than a murderer.

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Ministry of Education Summons BSTU To Hastily Arranged Meeting Which Provoked ‘The Letter’

Laurie King, Chief Education Officer

As promised BU produces the letter in its original form which the BSTU sent to the Chief Education Officer arising from a ‘secret meeting’ under his chairmanship. It does not matter how anyone tries to interpret the letter, to any competent person (counsel), the threat and inference is crystal clear. If one compares what is stated in the last paragraph of the letter attached to what was reported in the Nation today, “BSTU first vice-president Erskine Padmore said again yesterday that his members would resume work as scheduled pending the findings of the Waterman Commission Of Inquiry, set up to look into affairs at The Alexandra School.” The BU family can draw one sensible conclusion.

Can anyone explain anyway why the Chief Education Officer Laurie King held a secret meeting with the BSTU immediately following the COI – at a cost of $600,000.00 – which was expressly established to to make the AX Mess a transparent affair? Let us forget about the decision by Commissioner Waterman to hold the COI summations of counsel in camera.

BU raises AGAIN the question of conflict of interest by Keith Simmons, a member of the Public Service Commission – employer of those employed at Alexandra School – and also the chairman of the management committee of Alexandra School. When it was suggested to him by counsel that he was in conflict of interest in holding both those posts, he replied that he was not and if a conflict arose, he would recuse himself from one or the other. Why can’t he see his roles as being improper and that by holding both posts and being privy to confidential information from both, he is in conflict of interest? What manner of lawyer is entitled to wear silk in Barbados again?

  • See letter sent to Chief Education Officer Parts 1,2

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The AX Matter Moves To The Next Phase

Commissioner Frederick Waterman – Photo Credit: Nation

The final arguments from lawyers representing all parties in the Alexandra School Dispute have been submitted and Barbadians await the report from lone Commissioner Frederick Waterman. It is obviously the report will be delivered before the September school term begins.

There was a sense by BU during the last two weeks of the Inquiry that it was hurried along; and for an obvious reason. The  first school term is scheduled to begin on the 10 September 2012 and given known timelines the Waterman Report will be late. Therefore the 64k question is – what will be the next phase of the AX Affair?

It is early days yet to evaluate the performance of the Alexandra Commission. However, BU is concerned the Commissioner made some questionable decisions which will impact the quality of the final report.  For example, it is understood from our sources that the aunt of Miss X whom we reported on another blog the student in the transcript affair was to go to live in the USA to facilitate school there, was in Barbados and prepared to give evidence. BU understands she was seized with interesting bits of information as a result of her visit to the school to which Miss X was to attend and where the transcript was allegedly sent by the secretary. Our source has advised that she had proof no such transcript was received by the US school. A reasonable conclusion to be made, the transcript was never sent. We have been reliably advised that Commissioner Waterman refused to allow this witness to be called.

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The Alexandra School Conspiracy EXPOSED

Deputy Principal Beverley Neblett-Lashley (l) Commissioner Frederick Waterman (c) Former Secretary Merlene Sealey (r) – the two women at the centre of the ‘transcript affair’.

On August 25, 2012 BU family member, the venerable Yardbroom, a posted the following comment:

“Reports are that Mr. Vernon Smith QC “RECALLED” Alexandra’s Deputy Principal Beverley Neblett-Lashley and Former Secretary Merlene Sealey to give evidence again before the COI. It is alleged after which “Smith, who questioned the deputy Principal and former secretary, then submitted that there was no evidence before the Commission proving that the allegations against Broomes were true.”

Do you know what questions were asked of them and what their responses were?”

BU tapped its legal resources for an answer and the following is what has been reported to us.

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