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No cover up

The second in command at the Alexandra School today denied trying to hide the fact she slapped a student in the face from her immediate boss. Deputy Principal Beverley Neblett-Lashley included the incident in her written statement to the Commission of Enquiry on Alexandra, and responded to questions about it when the matter was raised by Principal Jeff Broome’s counsel, Cecil McCarthy.

While giving her third day of evidence when the tribunal continued sittings today at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Neblett-Lashley said having not struck a child in “30 odd years” of teaching, a stressful environment caused her to strike the child at the time.

Responding to questions from McCarthy, she said she apologised to the boy and his father about what she did, and that she subsequently received a letter from Broomes on the matter which she responded to, including offering an explanation.

She said she tried to tell Broomes about what had happened but circumstances, including a parent meeting the following day, and the principal leaving the island, preventing her from doing so.

“I couldn’t interrupt the meeting just to go and tell him that, the meeting was already in progress… The principal was in the meeting with the parents, I was interacting with the other child’s parent,” she said. “I cannot think at the time what would have stopped me from telling him at that time, all I know is that the principal was curtailing the meeting because he had to go to the airport… At the time I interacted with the boy’s parent, I went into the parent meeting, everything happened fast on that particular day.

“There was no reason for me to hide it from Mr. Broomes, Sir,” she added.

McCarthy said: “What I want to get clear is that the principal documented this in writing and the tenor of your statement suggests that you resented that, because you felt that you had dealt with it and he should not have documented it.”

He said Broomes was met with hostility about the matter at a social gathering, and that he was unaware of it at the time.

“I was surprised to hear that somebody would be accosting the principal about the matter because when the parent left we had worked it out. Even before we started to talk I apologised because I recognised that I was wrong,” the deputy principal responded.

“The fact that I reacted in that way is an indication that there was a lot of stress in the environment and that is why I included that in my deposition … and things that I had never done in my 30 odd years happened.”

McCarthy: “Did you consider it not a reasonable thing for the principal, having been confronted, to write you?” Neblett-Lashley: “Of course, Sir, and I responded immediately.” (SC)

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