Letter still nowhere to be found

Mystery remains over whether a now controversial June 4, 2011 letter from Principal of the Alexandra School, Jeff Broomes, alleging the absence of instruction by a senior teacher, ever made it to the Ministry of Education.

The official in charge of the ministry’s Records Management Unit, Principal Personnel Officer Stephanie Soverall, today said her department, which is responsible for “incoming mail and outgoing mail”, had no evidence the principal’s correspondence ever made it there.

She was testifying this morning at the Commission of Enquiry into the school when it resumed hearings.

The officer said mail was received by the ministry from various sources, including that which was collected from the post office, and taken straight to her unit where it was recorded and sorted.

There were also instances were people placed correspondence in a mailbox in the “receptionist area” at the ministry, mail was given by hand to officials there, while letters also went directly to the administration block for the attention of the minister, permanent secretary and chief education officer.

In the case of the latter method, mail received was usually stamped and recorded by the executive secretary of the particular official.

She said mail from school principals or chairmen of school boards was usually sent via porter/messengers, who would have books that could be signed indicating the correspondence was received at the ministry.

Soverall said there was no sign of Broomes’ letter, in which he was telling education officials about an allegation that science teacher Amaida Greaves had not taught a class of fourth formers for an entire term.

“We have checked as far back as May, because I wanted to see how the mail was being recorded, if it was being recorded on a daily basis, and we have no evidence in the human resource section of our registry of it having been received,” she told the commission.

She said the Chief Education Officer’s executive secretary was also asked about the letter and had said she knew nothing of it.

Additionally, there was no evidence that Broomes’ letter was placed in the mailbox in the reception area.

“That mail is opened in the registry, it is recorded in the registry and all information is also seen by our registry persons once there is no confidential mail and if it is to the attention of any person, and we have found nothing that indicates that letter was received,” she said.

Soverall, who joined the ministry three years ago, added: “It is my denial of having received the letter in the registry or Records Management Unit of the ministry.”

Responding to questions from the principal’s senior counsel Vernon Smith, QC, the officer said she did not deal with all mail herself and did not personally check everything daily. She also said she could not say all mail going to the registry “is recorded”. (SC)

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