Outside resource needed to rebuild Alexandra

The Alexandra School has been so “shattered” it will take an “outside resource” to rebuild it.

That’s the belief of Deputy Principal Beverley Neblett-Lashley, who said relations at the St. Peter institution would not now be so badly off if such help was provided “a year or two ago”.

She was answering questions from Principal Jeff Broomes’ counsel Vernon Smith, QC, when the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra continued at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex today.

Smith told the witness it saddened him that relations at the school had deteriorated to the point where “disturbing” statements and accusations involving staff at the school were a feature of the tribunal.

“It does disturb me and it pains me that it has come to this and I think … it can be resolved if we all have a change of heart and resort to the professional, educational talents. There is nothing like forgiving, you cannot forget but you can forgive and move on because what has happened is a lesson that you can all learn from,” the prominent attorney said.

“Sir, when the appraisal report was presented to the principal and myself at the Ministry of Education my question to the ministry on that occasion was, ‘What resources do you intend to make available to the school?’ because if we could have fixed the problem we would have fixed it already,” she responded.

“It means therefore that for us to get the kind of working relationship that you have described, I believe what has happened over the last 25 days has shattered the kind of ideal situation that you are suggesting, unless there is some outside resource made available to the school…

“And in my opinion had it been done a year or two ago we would not be at this point now.”

Neblett-Lashley also disagreed with Smith that turning to the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union for help was wrong, specifically if the teaching staff’s relations with the principal had nothing to do with their terms and conditions of service.

“If I made an appeal to my employer and as of now I have had no response what is wrong with me then making an approach to my union?” she asked.

“I have often said that we have a feeling as if nobody is taking any interest in what is happening at Alexandra and if the union is the agency that shows interest I have no difficulty with people appealing to their union.”

Smith: “The person who should deal with your problem would have been the Ministry of Education.” Neblett-Lashley: “I agree that they had a role to play and I would also say that in my opinion the principal was the person who had direct contact with the ministry and it seems as though that was the line of communication.

“The principal is the head of the institution and he needs to care about what is happening with the workers with whom he is working, with the plant, with the compound so it is part of the responsibility of the principal.” (SC)

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