Principal out to divide and rule

Principal Jeff Broomes gives Commission of Enquiry Senior Counsel Milton Pierce a hearing.

Divide and rule.

That, said senior teacher at the Alexandra School, Leslie Lett, is a key tactic of Principal Jeff Broomes in his management of that educational organisation.

“I am convinced that is one of his tactics. Divide and rule is a tactic that has been discredited but that does not mean that people would not use it,” the head of the English Department said.

He was giving evidence at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra today at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

Lett said there was a minority of temporary teachers who, because they did not have tenure might have felt vulnerable, as compared to permanent teachers, 90 per cent of whom had issues with the principal.

The witness said he believed both sets of teachers were committed to Alexandra, but that there were occasions when Broomes tried to divide them, including suggestion that one group was more committed than the other.

“He plays to that and this is one example where he would try to divide where the junior staff would say ‘wait the senior staff did not do anything’,” he said in reference to differences of opinion on curriculum changes.

Lett said the only time he became aware of a “hardening” of relations between permanent and temporary Alexandra teachers was in the 2010 inspection report on the school.

He said his own relations with temporary teachers was “very good” and that Broomes could not dictate such.

“I would say that my relationship with the junior staff is cordial, professional and good,” he stated. Lett also said he was aware of a view that many of the female senior teachers, who attended Alexandra, were “the problem” and that Broomes was happy to espouse that view.

“You would hear some teachers say that the old scholars are the problem, that has been said. He (Broomes) wants to paint it that way if he can tell me it is the blasted women who were students there.”

The former teacher of the year also told the commission he was not special, and his colleagues at Alexandra had the same qualities as he.

“I am not an exception at the Alexandra School… I don’t put myself as being radically different from any other teacher. I think the commitment of all teachers is equal to mine, even the temporary ones, Sir,” he said while being examined by Vernon Smith, QC, counsel for the principal. “I want to make it clear that the qualities you have seen in me are also seen in my colleagues.” (SC)

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