Chairman flogs ministry

An animated Hal Gollop (standing) during today’s proceedings at the Alexandra School enquiry.

The Ministry of Education has been flogged for its handling of several complaints involving Principal of the Alexandra School, Jeff Broomes.

Disrespectful of the board of management, children and parents, was how a disappointed Alexandra Chairman Keith Simmons, QC, described the ministry’s alleged non response to various pieces of correspondence calling for its help in resolving various matters at the school.

They specifically related to about four cases where allegations were made against the principal’s cousin, a coach employed temporarily at Alexandra, but which Simmons asserted had not been properly investigated by the principal.

Simmons was giving evidence at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra today at the Wildey Gymnasium.

Alleged incidents

He spoke of alleged incidents, including those involving coach Broomes and a female student, and others concerning a teacher, Sophia Ifill, other teachers and students.

Simmons voiced his displeasure with the response he received from the Ministry of Education when he wrote officials there on the matter.

“I wrote the Ministry (of Education) about these incidents involving Mr. Broomes the coach and indicated to them that I thought that the principal Mr. (Jeff) Broomes in handling these matters did not seem to understand that there was a conflict of interest in all of these matters,” the chairman told the commission. “This is the most serious matter at the school and that the rules of natural justice were not applied, in that in the case of Miss Ifill she was not even given a hearing.

Ministry’s ‘failure’

“They (ministry officials) have not even acknowledged receipt of the letter and this is a very serious, horrendous situation. How can you possibly, in these situations, where you are related to somebody hear a case, four cases, within the space of at least six months and dismiss all of them, disregard all of them?

“And I drew it to the attention of the Ministry of Education and they did not even have the respect to even acknowledge them. This is a very serious matter and if they behaved that way in this matter then they did not show respect for the board, they don’t show respect for the children, the parents, anybody. I just do not understand it. The ministry never even acknowledged the letter,” he added.

Simmons said in the case of one of the complaints, he received correspondence from the Chief Education Officer saying the ministry was “looking into the matter” only after the Commission of Enquiry was set up.

Asked by sole Commissioner Frederick Waterman if in his view “it was swept under the carpet”, the witnesss said: “Swept? I don’t think they even saw it. I just do not understand.”

“Up to this day not even an acknowledgment, up to this day not even saying we are going to investigate it.”

Simmons agreed with commission senior counsel Milton Pierce that he was appointed to carry out the Minister of Education’s policy and therefore had a duty to the minister or ministry for what went on at Alexandra. (SC)

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