If anyone “bad talked” Principal of the Alexandra School Jeff Broomes when he applied and was interviewed for the Chief Education Officer position, it was not the chairman of his board of management, Keith Simmons, QC.
That was Simmons’ response this afternoon when he found himself on the defensive at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra.
It followed his confirmation that as a member of the Public Service Commission he was involved in the grading of Broomes’ interview for the post of Chief Education Officer, a job he eventually did not get.
This emerged when the former magistrate was being examined by his counsel attorney-at-law Guyson Mayers when the commission sat the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
Mayers asked Simmons if he was either the chairman or a member of the Public Service Commission, and the witness confirmed he was a member. Guyson Mayers: “At any time in that capacity, have you ever had to deal with a matter that involved the principal?”
Simmons: “The principal applied for Chief Education Officer and I sat at that meeting.” It was at that point that Broomes’ lead counsel Vernon Smith, QC, rose to his feet and said: “If you are a member of the Public Service Commission and you deal with anything involving a teacher or any public servant I want to know if you take off your coat as a member of the thing and put it aside and talk to it in any other capacity.”
Simmons responded: “All you have to do is excuse yourself, you just say excuse as soon as you walk through the door and notice him there.” “In any part of the world, even in Russia you will have situations in which you have to make decisions. I sat on the board that interviewed Mr. Broomes for Chief Education Officer. I marked him on the interview but let me say this, what I know (is) a member of the same board told me that Mr. Broomes told him that he understood that I bad talked him.
“That’s no problem, I am honest with you… It was not a disciplinary matter about Mr. Broomes, but if you want to get the marks you can go and get the marks.”
Simmons refuted any suggestions of a conflict of interest, and pointed out that he was not a member of the panel that held discussions with or interviewed Broomes. (SC)