Alexandra no war zone

The Alexandra School was no “war zone”, but some happenings at the institution, including frequently flared tempers at board meetings, and differences of management were a major source of concern. This was asserted today by Senior Education Officer Vaneisha Cadogan, the Ministry of Education’s representative on the Alexandra School’s board of management at the height of major industrial strife there. The official, who became a member of the board in 2008, said today: “I am not going to confirm that it was a war zone, I think it might be a very strong term but there were some meetings at which the environment was less than comfortable at which persons expressed opinions with some emotion, but I wouldn’t say that it was a war zone. “What I tried to do was to bring an objective perspective to the discussion, to advise on procedure and counsel the parties concerned or encourage the parties concerned to exercise restraint and to keep the proceedings [going] in a way that meetings of that nature are conducted, and for the most part eventually I would have been successful.” She was speaking at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex as the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra continued sittings. Cadogan said while flared tempers was not unusual at meetings, she was concerned with the regularity with which took place at the St. Peter school, specifically at board meetings she attended. In fact, she related having to be the one who often found herself acting as peace maker. “I was not accustomed to that as a norm in other settings so it wasn’t normal for me,” she testified. The educator said a part of the challenge related to some ambiguity in the responsibilities of the board of management versus that of the principal, including the supervision of staff such as the Secretary Treasurer, who was hired by the board, but supervised by Principal Jeff Broomes. “There is the grey area there where the board is the employer but the principal is responsible for the day to day management of the institution and therefore needing to have some jurisdiction in some way of those who are at the plant,” she pointed out. “There were times when the principal complained of challenges with the Secretary Treasurer and knowing if the Secretary Treasurer was on the premises… General matters of that nature from time to time emerged.” Another area of contention emerged when the principal made it clear he was unhappy that board members had met, without his knowledge, with teachers. Broomes raised the issue at a meeting of the board of management, she recalled, and questioned why such had taken place. “I do not think the principal was comfortable with the fact that the chairman would have had that meeting. Certainly the principal felt that the action of the chairman was unacceptable. “Based on the comments that the chairman made I believe that the chairman’s sole intention was to hear from the teachers … what their concerns were to assist with the situation,” Cadogan added. (SC)

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