Shifting deputy better for school

Principal Jeff Broomes at the inquiry today.

The Alexandra School’s administrative head has acknowledged it was he who made the controversial decision to relocate the deputy principal’s office.

But Principal Jeff Broomes defended the move today, saying while Victor Johnson, the person then second in charge at Alexandra, did not favour the shift, he as principal had mandated it because it was in the school’s best interest.

He was answering questions on the issue today when it came up at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra, held at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

Broomes said contrary to reports that the room was one located at the back of the school hall and used to store equipment including the piano, it had been previously occupied by curriculum coordinator Marilyn Crichlow.

“It was one of the best kept rooms at the school as far as I am concerned,” he said.

The principal said any new occupant of a room would want to give it “a special touch” and that he had allowed Johnson’s request to have it painted, and the placement of a separation, enabling him to have a separate lunch room. The room was also air conditioned.

Broomes said while traditionally the principal and deputy principal were located in the same section of the school, he believed it was better to have a physical separation.

“I am of the view that … the principal and deputy principal down in the western side of the school and the rest of the school on the eastern is not right,” he told the commission.

“In that back office the only thing you can see from in there is the stairs leading to the library, and you can’t see the school at all.”

The official said after seeking the support of staff, he made the final decision after a year, noting he was persuaded to do so after sitting in his own office and hearing “chapter and verse” of a conversation between Johnson and another individual.

Broomes said, however, that Johnson was not similarly persuaded, and that he eventually had to have the then acting deputy’s belongings moved to the new room in his absence.

“Mr. Johnson and I spoke about the move. I told Mr. Johnson I will be sending Mr. Grimes the porter/messenger to him to effect the move, so said so done. Mr. Grimes went to Mr. Johnson on my instructions to help transfer the things and Mr. Johnson told him ‘No you are not moving them’,” he recounted.

Broomes said he “helped the porter/messenger” to move the items over an ensuing weekend while Johnson was absent and that the teacher made objections to him as principal, his union and the chairman of the school’s board of management.

“I know that Mr. Johnson was not happy about going into the room at all… We went through a number of options and I pushed quite persuasively for that one,” he stated. (SC)

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