Teachers' Union files legal papers contesting school transfers
The Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) is taking Government to court over the transfer of 18 teachers from the Alexandra Secondary School last year following a Commission of Inquiry into the dispute between the union and then principal Jeff Broomes.
President of the BSTU Mary Anne Redman disclosed today that the legal papers have been filed as “the next logical step”.
“It was done very recently because we had to make sure that we had exhausted the process at every level before we took it to the courts,” she told Barbados TODAY.
However, she declined to give any further details.
The legal action comes a year and a half after the teachers were moved from the St Peter institution and reassigned to other secondary schools across the system in January 2013, following the Frederick Waterman-led commission.
That commission had recommended Broomes’ transfer and he was sent to head the Parkinson Memorial School. Now he is again in the hot seat as he faces complaints similar to those that surfaced at the Alexandra School.
A group of teachers has alleged lack of communication between Broomes and his deputy Maxine Mayers and that he unilaterally made changes to the curriculum and timetables.
However, the principal insisted in an interview with Barbados TODAY that his changes were driven by a desire to assist students who need remedial assistance – those who enter the school with 30 per cent or less in the Barbados Secondary School’s Entrance Examination – and he is focused on his students and unfazed by the opposition.
“They want the one remedial class to be treated like everybody else. Then those children go right through school to fourth and fifth form and then be put out without getting any assistance.
“More than 60 percent of the students left school every year without a single certificate. Parkinson is a better school than that. It has a greater legacy than that . . . If I am to be crucified for doing what is in the best interest of helping people’s children, crucify me because I will not bend on that; never will!” Broomes insisted, adding that he “has difficulty with people objecting to mentorship where we are helping children”.
Defending his plan for those who need assistance, he said he would not allow the complaints and accusations to stress him or put a stumbling block in the way of progress.
“I guess that some people must have problems with helping children through mediation and mentorship, which to my mind is driving progressive education forward worldwide. I don’t know of it being anything but my duty and that of teachers,” he said.
“You have a class of 26 children, 23 or 24 may be doing well and the other two or three may be . . . struggling. I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking these weak ones out and having a teacher assigned to helping them with that little small group instruction,” Broomes added.
As for the accusations brought by the teachers at the school by their trade union representative, the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Broomes said he was copied in on a letter sent to the Chief Education Officer and he has already sent a response.
However, he noted: “There is absolutely nothing that did not come at the same time last year with the same issues and that were addressed by the Chief Education Officer who came to the school and they went through the same thing.”