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BSTU 'threatening and disrespectful'

Aggressive, threatening and totally disrespectful.

That’s how embattled Alexandra School Principal Jeff Broomes has described the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, the institution which represents the majority of teachers at the school.

The veteran educator told the Commission of Enquiry investigating Alexandra’s administration and management the disrespect included the way the BSTU’s leadership disregarded agreed arrangements to hold meetings at the St. Peter school.

It also related to the union’s alleged attempt to get involved in matters, including curriculum design, when it was not lawfully allowed to do so.

Broomes made the assertions on his second day of evidence at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports complex.

“Too many letters, almost every letter from the BSTU, were aggressive, threatening and to my mind totally disrespectful,” the principal told the commission.

“I am saying that is exactly why I stopped reading because of those three points — aggressive, threatening and totally disrespectful — and those meetings would then be held at the school and I found it very, very disconcerting and I complained about it quite a few times.

“You are asked for permission to hold a meeting at the school and I have given you a room to hold the meeting…, but two things would happen then, one, you would chose not to use the room I gave you, but to hold it in the staff room and disturb people and, two, meetings are supposed to go on through lunch and you would carry it to minutes to three o’clock, leaving the children unsupervised and untaught. I felt that was wrong,” he said.

Broomes also testified that he restricted his contact with BSTU because it was “threatening and disrespectful to me” and he did not need “the stress”.

“I don’t need that kind of stress. I am an employee just like the members of BSTU and all of those pieces of correspondence go to my employer where any discussion, quarrel is between the union and my employer, not me, and the employer will interact … and that has not proven to be a bad thing, and it has kept my health a certain way above water,” he said.

The witness also said that to his knowledge no union should seek to get involved in curriculum matters at any time.

“It is none of the union’s business what the curriculum design of Alexandra School is, that is my duty in association with my staff,” he said.

“I don’t know how the curriculum design of Alexandra, or Combermere or St. Lucy Secondary or the Garrison becomes the business of any teachers’ union unless it is in conflict with the regulations and the rules that impact people in reference to their duties.” (SC)

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