A disputed list of grievances, published exclusively by this publication in January when some teachers of the Alexandra School were on strike, has stirred controversy at the Commission of Enquiry into the learning institution.
Head of the St. Peter school’s English Department Leslie Lett today refuted a section of the said article, carried in the January 6, 2012 edition of Barbados TODAY, which stated that Adrian Allman, a teacher in his department, was hired in contravention of agreed procedures.
The issue was raised this morning during Lett’s continued examination by Principal Jeff Broomes’ counsel Cecil McCarthy, who said Allman had raised the matter in his witness statement to the tribunal.
Lett, who read a section of the statement aloud while in the witness chair, said attempts by him to get the hierarchy of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union to issue a retraction between January and now had failed.
McCarthy: “You were aware of this article in the Barbados TODAY?”
Lett: “I was indeed aware of it and was incensed by it. Lett said having read the article in Barbados TODAY he apologised to Allman via text message and a follow up phone call the next day during which he lamented “that it was the view of someone within the BSTU and not his own personal views”. McCarthy: “He is suggesting that you had promised him to have a correction. Is that correct?”
Lett: “I had indeed promised that there would be a retraction and that I would work to see that his was retracted.” McCarthy: “And we are now in July and he is saying that to date there has been no such retraction.”
Lett: “And he is quite correct.” McCarthy: “Could you explain that?” “The first time that I had seen this letter that had appeared
in Barbados TODAY was at union headquarters when it
was circulated. I do not know who is the author of it, … I asked ‘Who wrote this?’, [but] nobody said who was the author. I said ‘Well this contains many errors and one error is that I did not approve the hiring of Mr. Allman’, and I said quite clearly that this is one time that I could vouch that the hiring practices were followed,” Lett responded.
He said he told both BSTU President Mary Redman and consultant Patrick Frost that a retraction was necessary, but that this was not done.
“There was not a retraction from the union and I was very upset about it and I am still very upset about, but my thinking was the reason that there might not be a retraction (was) that people were angry that my text appeared on Barbados Underground.” Lett said.
McCarthy had a copy of the Barbados TODAY article and showed the witness.
“The point is this, that the article indicated that Mr. Allman was one of the teachers hired in contravention of the agreed
procedures and you text Mr. Allman you agreed that you would have it corrected. Is that not correct,” the lawyer asked? Lett: “I did.”
McCarthy: “And the question is, having done that why are we in July and it has not been corrected”? Lett: “That was the decision of the BSTU executive.” McCarthy: “And you didn’t think you had an obligation, because this was a whole extract from the BSTU, and you don’t think you had an obligation in a matter pertaining to you to ensure that the BSTU correct it?”
Lett: “I made representation … and yes I think it should have been retracted.”
McCarthy: “But you didn’t think that it was something that you could have done by contacting Barbados TODAY as well?”
Lett: “No, it was under BSTU and I felt that they should have done it.” (SC)