Alexandra board also at fault
Principal Jeff Broomes made some errors, but should not shoulder all the blame for problems at the Alexandra School.
That’s the view of former Secretary and Treasurer to the school’s board of management, June Yearwood, who today spoke of major conflict involving the principal, the board of management, and teachers at Alexandra.
She was one of two witnesses giving evidence at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra today at the Wildey Gymnasium. Yearwood, who was in the post between 2000 and 2011, also serving as executive officer and clerk/typist in a tenure which began in 1977, said things would not now be where they are if there had been compromise and better communication by Broomes, board chairman, Keith Simmons, teachers and other staff.
“I started to notice a little friction between the principal and the chairman. I would say from time to time you had some complaints from staff and so forth, I cannot say the specific complaint, I just noticed that people were coming to the chairman, I was not privy to anything specific,” she said.
“The principal was not in favor of the chairman coming on to the premises and meeting with staff because he felt if anything it should come through the principal to the board and not just staff meeting with the board.
“I don’t recall what the board said at the time, if they agreed with the chairman meeting with the staff or not. You have to depend on the principal, you cannot manage without the principal’s input,” she added.
Yearwood said she did not like conflict and was unhappy with the atmosphere at the school, and board meetings especially. She said the Ministry of Education’s representative on the board, Vaneisha Cadogan was a virtual peace maker.
“Sometimes it was not really a good atmosphere, but what I must say was that our ministry representative on the board (Vaneisha Cadogan) played a vital part in giving the right advice to these two parties. She was instrumental in giving the best advice so that these two parties could handle the situation,” she noted.
“They had their differences, but at the end of the day you have to still be professional enough to work together. Sometimes I really felt uncomfortable, I do not like conflict.”
In response to a question from junior counsel for the Barbados Secondary Teaches Union, Saffron Griffith, Yearwood said the dispute at Alexandra contributed to her retiring.
“I thought I had enough and I was ready to go home,” she stated. “I felt that if there was sufficient trust in the board and the principal we would have been able to come together and they would have been able to work and bring the school forward.
“We had one or two meetings that the anger came out of persons, back and forth shouting. We had some from the principal, we had some board members shouting at one another, the ministry rep was very instrumental in trying to calm.” (SC)