Principals taken by surprise
The principal of the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School, Jeff Broomes, and his counterpart at the Alma Parris Memorial Secondary School Valdez Francis today expressed surprise over planned protest action by their teachers.
When contacted by Barbados TODAY, Broomes also said he was completely unaware of a charge leveled by some of his staffers that knives had been found in the possession of students at his school. In fact, he said the matter, which was reported by this newspaper yesterday, had only been drawn to his attention “about 15 minutes ago”.
“I am totally unaware of anything like that.
“As a matter of fact, in my entire career I have never seen anything about weapons and not address the matter, never once,”
“I never saw the report until 15 minutes ago. Apparently, something took place last week Tuesday when I was not at school. That is the day I missed school. I had a dental procedure done and I was at home. I saw in a book it was reported to the office and if the Deputy Principal chose not to address it, it was never brought to my attention.
“I never, never heard about the incident until today,” Broomes contended.
In response to other claims of serious indiscipline at the school, the veteran educator insisted that it was the duty of teachers to control students placed under their supervision. Therefore, “I cannot be held responsible for that,” he said.
The principal also dismissed reports that students were lighting fires in classrooms.
“I do not know what they [teachers] are talking about. They are swiping at everything,” he said, while maintaining that as principal, “I do not teach in the classroom [and] it is the teacher’s responsibility to maintain order [there]”.
In response to threats by the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) to withdraw its members from the school until the problems are resolved, Broomes said he had not even been informed that the teachers would not be at work today.
“It is their right to withdraw their labour, but I do not know what resolution they are talking about. There are 61 teachers at the Parkinson School and we were able to account for 36 today. I assume that the other 25 were at the union headquarters.”
His counterpart at the Alma School was also surprised by the latest move by the BUT members.
Francis told Barbados TODAY that no one had informed him that teachers employed at Alma Parris would not be attending classes.
As for claims that there was a high level of indiscipline at the St Peter school, the principal argued that the students were mirroring what was happening in the society.
However, he said he was doing everything in his power to maintain discipline and order at the institution.
Attempts to reach officials in the Ministry of Education today for comment were unsuccessful. Minister of Education Ronald Jones was attending Parliament, while acting Chief Education Officer Karen Best was unavailable for comment.