Simmons: Blame the ministry

Not the board of management.

Not Principal Jeff Broomes.

Not the more than two dozen teachers who took industrial action.

Not their representative, the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, or other stakeholders.

That’s the view of Chairman of Alexandra’s board of management, Keith Simmons, QC,

The former Minister of Education made the statement this morning during his third day of testimony before the Commission of Enquiry on Alexandra, which continued at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

One day after he criticised the Ministry of Education for what he considered its non response to correspondence from the board about the principal’s handling of complaints involving his brother Roger Broomes, a temporary coach at Alexandra, Simmons went a step further.

“The ministry must bear absolute responsibility for what has taken place at Alexandra school. They have done nothing from the beginning when I got there to stem it, and therefore in my mind have encouraged it. They would not even respond to letters that we wrote them,” he told the commission headed by sole Commissioner Frederick Waterman.

Broomes’ comments were made while he was being examined by Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union lead counsel Hal Gollop.

Gollop asked: “Do you get the impression they (Ministry of Education) were passing the buck or they were backing off?”

“They were doing nothing, totally incompetent,” Simmons asserted.

The former magistrate’s unhappiness with the ministry’s response was based on his view that there were significant problems at the school, including the principal’s “absolute fixation” with his own authority to the point of paranoia.

“He always allowed you to know he was the principal,” the witness told the tribunal.

The chairman also said his decision to avoid confrontation with Broomes did not mean he allowed the principal to have his way, but that he wanted to have peace at Alexandra.

That, he explained, was why he chose to ignore “trivial” issues raised by Broomes.

“To my mind there were so many small issues, irrelevant issues that didn’t matter, just did not matter, so why argue over what I considered nothing? I just did not say anything I just ignored,” he said. (SC)

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