Legal challenge possible
Authorities might not have a legal leg to stand on if they move to “separate” Principal Jeff Broomes from the Alexandra School.
The principal’s counsel Vernon Smith, QC, insisted today that based on Broomes’ letter of appointment, which indicated he was appointed “Principal, the Alexandra School”, meant a legal opinion was necessary and his separation from the St. Peter institution would likely be a court matter.
This arose during examination of Barbados Secondary Teachers Union President Mary Redman today at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra’s administration and management at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex in Wildey.
“Do you know of any circumstance in which a principal with a similar letter of appointment as Mr. Broomes has been transferred to any other position without his consent,” Broomes counsel Cecil McCarthy, QC, asked the trade unionist?
She responded: “I do not know of any such circumstances, but my not knowing of a circumstance does not mean that it cannot be done.”
“We are saying, Sir, that Mr. Broomes is a public servant and … as a public servant the laws that govern public servants apply to Mr. Broomes and as the CPO said in here it is possible for Mr. Broomes to be transferred, it is possible for him to be separated from the school and that can happen in a variety of ways and transfer is only one.”
The principal’s other counsel, Vernon Smith, QC, asked Redman if her organisation had received a legal opinion on the issue, and she said they had from counsel Hal Gollop who agreed Broomes could be “separated”.
“Mr. Smith you are saying that he cannot be moved,” Commission Frederick Waterman queried?
Smith: “Yes he can be removed. He can be dismissed from office… He can only be removed (from the post of principal) if he is in breach of the terms and conditions of his service, that is my submission.”
“With all due respect, it’s a legal opinion as to what the terms of his appointment and the letter of his appointment state. As I understand it for a post to be transferable you are appointed as a Permanent Secretary assigned to a ministry, it’s the same thing you appointed a principal assigned.
“His (Broomes’) letter I understand states he is appointed to the post of the Principal of Alexandra School and that has to be the subject of a legal opinion — what does that contract say and mean,” he added.
Waterman said, however, that he thought Broomes’ letter of appointment “reads incorrectly, it does not conform”.
“When you see the Teacher’s Order of 2008 it says principals so many, it doesn’t say principal Alexandra, principal Queen’s College, principal Harrison College. It says principals, so as it were they are appointed principals … and you are assigned to a school. A letter like that can’t override the law,” the commissioner said.
“With all due respect, it does not overrule the law, but it could be a subject of the terms of his employment… I still think it has never been tested,” Smith countered. (SC)