“Not true”; “totally inaccurate”.
And as a result, Barbados, the region, and the world have been misled by Principal of the Alexandra School Jeff Broomes.
That’s how head of the school’s Science Department, Amaida Greaves, has responded to Broomes’ allegation that she did not teach a class of fourth formers for an entire term. Greaves had her say on the issue, which prompted the January 2012 strike involving her and other Alexandra teachers represented by the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, and eventually leading to the convening of a Commission of Enquiry on the school.
She said Broomes had abused his power by refusing to consult with her as required by law in making changes within her department.
The teacher, whose testimony was keenly anticipated since the enquiry started a few weeks ago, told the tribunal she had taught the class referred to by the principal for the majority of the term in question.
She explained that with exams held from week eight of the term, available teaching time was seven weeks, and that she had taught for the majority of that time. “I know that the whole nation, the whole region and the world has been told that I have not taught for the term. Let me make it clear, exams start in week eight, the 30 of May, and therefore there was from week one to week seven that we are dealing with,” she told Commissioner Frederick Waterman this afternoon.
With the largest audience since the commission started its work at the Wildey Gymnasium present, about 40 people, the witness said despite not being informed by Broomes of time table changes he had made within her department, and without her input, she taught the fourth form class in the first and second week.
“It was totally inaccurate, it is not true. I taught during the first three weeks, week four I didn’t go because I assumed everything was back to normal. I only found out by going to him that he had intended for what he had done in the first week to continue,” she said.
“Week five I talked to the chairman, I was waiting on him and the Chief (Education Officer) to see if somebody would tell me something, but between week five and seven I don’t have the exact times, I was absent on two Thursday afternoons, that’s when they had the three periods, because I had appointments and the Deputy (Principal) sent me on a fifth period to go substitute. I stayed the entire three periods and taught those students.
“I was the one too who gave them, based on what Mr. Bryan and Mrs. Rock had agreed would be set on the exam timetable … topics, only to be told by the students that Mr. Broomes had told them they don’t have to take the Chemistry exam since they were not taught for the third term.”
Greaves said she returned from “long leave” last year and at a meeting with Broomes was told of a number of changes, including the assignment of teachers.
One teacher was a Mrs. Greaves who went on sick leave for an extended period of time, another Mrs. Davis was really attached to the Home Economics Department but assigned to hers and did not have the necessary experience.
Greaves also said another teacher, a Mr. Bryan, who had the necessary experience to teach the said class of fourth formers was reassigned to do other work, and that when another, “Mrs. Odwin” was hired she was also not properly assigned.
The senior teacher also said she only learnt of Odwin’s appointment when she was introduced to her by a janitor and that she was unaware when Davis left.
Greaves said she now regretted not responding to Broomes May 24, 2012 letter on the matter, but that the principal was unfair to her and had not followed the relevant regulations.
“I had no input because Mr. Broomes told me he is the principal, he makes the decisions, he brings who he wants to to teach where he wants and that is it. He said ‘And I am following the ministry’s directive and the Education Regulations’,” she said.
“I said ‘No you are not Mr. Broomes, you are not following the ministry’s directives’ because I remember at a meeting at the ministry correspondence was sent to principals saying that they should involve heads of departments in the selection process.
“He said that he was giving me this instruction to teach fourth form … I said ‘Mr. Broomes it is not making any sense, the restructuring is not reasonable, it is illogical, it is not making sense and it is disruptive to student learning’. That is what I told him. I told Mr. Broomes the instructions you were giving were bad for the department, they were bad for the children and I cannot agree with him.
“To my mind I have obeyed instructions, all kinds of instructions, Mr Broomes has given, event though I am in disagreement. Those instructions were not reasonable, they were not rational, they were not according to best practice, so … if I followed what he was doing it would just have added to the confusion,” she added.
Greaves told the commission she “had to take a stand on this confusion that was being perpetrated on the department and without reason”.
“I follow what is reasonable, but this is not reasonable, this was confusing.” (SC)