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Former chairman advised Broomes to resign

This week is not the first time Principal of the Alexandra School Jeff Broomes was urged to resign from the post.

Former chairman of the school’s board of management, Joan Williams, revealed today that, after receiving persistent reports of the difficulties Broomes was having with some members of his teaching staff, she advised him to step down.

She told this to the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra’s administration and management when it continued today at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

Williams was head of the institution’s board of management on two occasions between 2003 and 2005 and for another term from 2006 to 2008.

The witness said that based on information the principal told her and other board members, she was aware he was having a tough time with some teachers, especially then head of the English Department Margo Clarke, and Head of the Fine Arts Department Gail Streat-Jules.

“I was aware that he had some difficulties with those two teachers… I told Mr. Broomes that he should resign, I said ‘Mr. Broomes you have something to offer, life is not made to live like this you can’t be under all this pressure all the time’. I spoke to him like that, it was too stressful an environment,” she testified.

She said the school head “did not get enough support from teachers, they did not submit the scripts and he brought this to the attention of the board” and it “became a union matter”.

Williams, responding to questions from Barbados Secondary Teachers Union counsel Hal Gollop, said fortunately the “turmoil” did not find its way into the board room.

“We had a very mature and resourceful board, the relationship was cordial and respectful,” she said.

“I was not having any difficulty in carrying out my function, I had a very good board… I got on well with them, they got on well with me. We knew he [Broomes] was in trouble… That’s how I felt for him. The turmoil did not come in the boardroom…”

Williams also said the board did not have a problem with Broomes, including his participation at board meetings.

“Each board meeting there is an agenda item called principal’s report and he was expected to attend, if for some reason he couldn’t attend he would submit his report through the secretary treasurer to the board… There were no contentious issues that I can recall,” she stated.

The former board leader also testified that the board told Broomes “that he had to write what we called the offending teachers… Put it in writing, whatever concern he had… We asked him to bring the letters to the next board meeting … and he brought them”.

Asked by Gollop if the specific letters had been copied to the board, she said no.

Williams also acknowledged that the board erred in not asking the principal for more information when he wrote Clarke on an alleged incident where an unidentified student was injured in class. (SC)

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