Jeff Broomes retiring ‘hurt and disappointed’
Principal of the Parkinson Memorial School Jeff Broomes is going out swinging, using his final principal’s report at the Pinelands, St Michael institution’s Speech Day and Awards Ceremony yesterday to lash out at “resistance to necessary structural and cultural changes” he proposed to improve learning.
In a speech laced with tacit accusations against teachers who challenged his management style, and the Ministry of Education, the outgoing head teacher said he was “hurt and disappointed” at the school’s performance during the 2014/2015 academic year, a period during which he was “forced to fight off misrepresentations, attempts at interdiction and damning actions”.
The controversial Broomes announced in August that he would retire from the teaching service on May 1 next year, and today he explained why he thought the time had come “to leave a place where I enjoy being a part of”.
In strong language, he spoke of the reversal of structural changes he had implemented and of students missing out on “critical teaching” due to industrial action by teachers.
The outgoing principal complained that no fewer than seven “clearly outlined structures”, which he implemented “to correct the failures that this school had experienced for at least five years” before his arrival, were removed without any consultation.
“Not even a simple telephone call,” said Broomes, adding that “the excuse” was that it was a direct mandate from the Chief Education Officer.
It was “a sad lash” on the children’s progress “simply to ensure adult satisfaction in their individual comfort zones,” he contended.
The abandoned structures included a programme that allowed fifth form students an extra year to improve on their examination results, at least four areas of community or voluntary service by students, an intervention initiative for teachers to volunteer to provide extra lessons especially to some students preparing for CXC and a remedial class to assist students with a Common Entrance score of less than 30, which he said had the support of parents.
That programme, he said, proved to be contentious, “and based on what was written to me, formed one of the areas for industrial action” over which he said he lost “very little sleep”.
Broomes pointed to “serious electrical problems” at the school hall that no action has been taken to improve “no matter how often” he complained.
“I must leave for something good to happen here,” he said.
Broomes said he had written no fewer than four times to the Ministry of Education to raise the issues of concern to the school.
He complained that academic performance was below expectations during the 2014/2015 school year and that improvements realized as a result of his initiatives had been reversed.
“This has hurt and disappointed me,” he declared.
He also referred to a letter he received last year from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education “that sought to initiate the process accusing me of things of which I knew nothing”.
The accusations, he said, included failure to carry out a directive, insubordination to the Chief Education Officer and misconduct of a serious nature in contravention of the Public Service Act, Cap 29.
“I stood tall and responded as would be expected of the one they choose to call controversial . . . Each of these was an interdicted offence that could have cost my job, my gratuity and my pension. There is only one problem. None of it was true.”
Broomes told the audience he had yet to receive a response to his November 2014 correspondence, therefore, not only had he reinstated all seven of the structures, but he had added an eighth.
“These children deserve only the best,” he said to applause.
He promised he would continue to “call a spade a spade” and challenged the authorities if they had plans “to start another commission [of inquiry], start it now”, said Broomes whose transfer to Parkinson followed strong disagreement with senior staff at The Alexandra School over his management style between 2010 and 2012.
However, controversy followed Broomes to Parkinson as tensions rose between him and the teachers, who protested against what they claimed were his management style and attitude to the staff.
In announcing his planned retirement in August, Broomes said there were “some good teachers” at the Parkinson School but that some were misled. (MM)