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Ministry hesitant to act, says Redman

The Ministry of Education has been reluctant to act on alleged “transgressions” by the Alexandra School Principal Jeff Broomes.

And Barbados Secondary Teachers Union President Mary Redman, who made that claim today, wanted to know why that was so.

She spoke while giving testimony at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra, which continued hearings at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

“Why has the ministry (of Education) been so hesitant to act in matters related to transgressions by Mr. Broomes? We cannot understand as a union, the teachers at the Alexandra School cannot understand, why no one with the authority to deal with Mr. Broomes has demonstrated that authority,” she told the tribunal headed by sole commissioner Frederick Waterman.

Redman, who submitted more than 169 pieces of correspondence as part of her evidence, said her organisation had made numerous complaints to the Ministry of Education on matters involving Broomes, including hiring practices at Alexandra.

One of the major concerns also pointed to was when a former teacher, Carl Padmore, was on secondment to help Barbados’ response to the Haiti earthquake and for an entire term there was no replacement to teach his Media and Performing Arts classes.

“Many times we have written to the Ministry of Education in relation to the hiring practices at the Alexandra School.

Often when we write to the Ministry of Education there is no response from them, sometimes when there is a response it is not the type of response that is suited to addressing the problem that we have raised in our correspondence,” Redman testified.

“When Mr. Padmore left with the secondment in 2010 the school remained for a term, this was the first term, without a teacher in Media and Performing Arts, a whole term.

“We were at that point having our meetings with the Ministry of Education, coming out of our industrial action in 2010, Mrs. (Gail) Streat-Jules … at those meetings brought it to the attention of the (acting) chief education officer and the acting permanent secretary at that time, Mr. Gilford Alleyne that that position needed to be filled, … she brought it on more than one occasion,” she said.

But Redman said after the education chief initially decided “urgent measures needed to be taken to place someone in that position”, this did not take place because, she testified, “the principal at the Alexandra School unilaterally cancelled those appointments for interviews”.

“When we raised it again at a follow up meeting the response from the chief (education officer) was that the matter was clouded and these students remained at that school without a teacher in Media and Performing Arts for a whole term.” (SC)

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