Broomes’ relationship with board fractured

It will take an effort akin to a resurrection to restore relations between the Alexandra School’s board of management and Principal Jeff Broomes.

relationship was that fractured, board member Julian Hunte asserted today, as was other aspects of the principal’s dealings with his staff, that the trade unionist found it “difficult to imagine a positive future for the Alexandra School with the current principal as principal in the future”.

He also told the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra that he would “pray for the people” at any other school Broomes was assigned to if that outcome ever arose. The official suggested Broomes might be in need of “cognitive behavioral therapy”.

Hunte, who is the Barbados Workers Union Deputy General Secretary and its Director of Industrial Relations, was giving evidence this morning at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

The witness, who represents the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados on the Alexandra board of management, said he feared the ongoing tribunal would only harden the stance of opposing sides in the Alexandra industrial dispute, positions that were already well entrenched.

“Nothing has changed, except that my training in industrial relations tells me that you see this whole Commission of Enquiry exercise, this in itself has been a factor which significantly impedes the possibility of there being a future working relationship between the board and the principal,” he told the commission.

“Relationships in an industrial setting, relationships in a work setting, have to be at a certain standard. Every type of relationship will have ups and downs, … there will be falling out, … however, there can come a time where a relationship between two parties in an industrial setting becomes so fractured that efforts to continue the relationship really make no sense.

“There is a point at which differences become beyond reconciliation and in my view if the relationship between the board at the principal was not at that point before this exercise of inquiry commenced it certainly is that way now. I think it is highly likely that that would be the consequence of what we have been hearing over the last few days,” he added.

Responding to questions from Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union counsel Hal Gollop, the board member said the status quo could not remain at Alexandra, and that based on everything he knew Broomes was the common denominator as far as fractured relations with the board and staff was concerned.

He agreed with the lawyer “that in the future there would be need to have a new board or a new principal, but given the reality of the difficulties between the principal and the teaching staff that the principal would have to supervise, given those difficulties, if you just change the board but keep the principal then you still have all that potential for conflict between the principal and the staff”.

“If you were to change the principal then you would eliminate that potential that there is for continued difficulty between the teaching staff and the current principal. If you change the board and the principal then you start at square one with entirely new relationships,” he stated.

Hunte also said as “fundamentally optimistic” a person as he was he did not see not a “positive future” for Alexandra with Broomes remaining as principal.

He also did not think he should be sent to another school and that he might be in need of psychological help. “But my assessment based on just my meetings at the board is that the principal is not in that cognitive place of being willing to change,” he said. (SC)

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