The Alexandra School cannot afford to have Jeff Broomes remain as its principal.
Chairman of the institution’s board of management, Keith Simmons, QC, asserting he was not out to destroy a man with whom he was “still friends” and who had “fantastic ideas”, believed there would be “a rapid deterioration” at the troubled learning institution if Broomes returned.
“The principal cannot go back there. He should not remain there,” the former Minister of Education said today at the Commission of Enquiry investigating Alexandra.
Simmons, who has also served as a Minister of Justice and was previously a magistrate, told Commissioner Frederick Waterman: “Mr Chairman, in all fairness I cannot see any improvement with Mr. Broomes going back, I see a rapid deterioration.”
“In all honesty I cannot see any improvement in the relationship between the principal and the staff at any level. I said to you already his manner of speaking to people is unbelievable. I don’t think he understands how he shouts at people. I spoke to him about it already about the third or fourth month I was down there.
“You could get a man to move a mountain if you speak to him nicely. A leader is a person who can leave a person and go away and know all is well, the work is going to be done,” he added.
Simmons spent a full day in the witness chair at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports complex after beginning his testimony yesterday.
Throughout today’s proceedings he responded to questions from commission senior counsel Milton Pierce, who referred to the 2010 Inspection Report on Alexandra, and Broomes’ statement to the tribunal.
Asked by Pierce what would be his recommendation on how the principal should be dealt with, Simmons said he did not see how Broomes could remain at the St. Peter school in the present circumstances.
“I know that he should not go back there, but I still think, though that he has some fantastic ideas. If it were possible for him to share those ideas, I still think he has a good contribution to make, but not at this school,” he said.
“Mr. Broomes has some fantastic ideas and I do not say that lightly, I mean that. You should see some of the things that Mr Broomes writes and you would be amazed, but something is wrong, I cannot pinpoint it. It is really a sad situation.”
The chairman said he was “trying to be as objective as possible” and did not want the principal’s reputation destroyed via the media.
He said while they had been some differences between himself, the board and Broomes, there were no hard feelings and he wanted any parting to be “amicable as possible”.
“I have tried my best not to say everything I wanted to say and I hope that people would appreciate that,” Simmons told the tribunal.
The chairman said relations between Broomes and the board had broken down primarily because of the school head’s dictatorial attitude.
“I think it is his attitude, his dominating attitude; if you disagree he is going to argue to the ends of the world,” Simmons testified.
“The principal has some very, very good ideas, but it is his ideas and nobody can add or subtract, nobody can improve on them. Fantastic ideas, you know, but don’t touch, don’t get involve with them and that is the problem. If you are leader and you come with an idea you can sit down with a management team and thrash it out.” (SC)