Controversial Combermere senior teacher Reverend Charles Morris was a no-show at his disciplinary hearing today.
Morris was expected to appear before a Ministry of Education disciplinary panel to answer charges that he breached the ministry’s Code of Conduct and Ethics when he spoke publicly about the environmental problems at the school in a recent interview with Barbados TODAY.
President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) Mary Redman said Morris could not attend because he was on sick leave.
“We have written [and] we are waiting on the Ministry, so they have to respond to us [before he can appear before the disciplinary panel]. But nothing can happen because as I said he is on sick leave, ” Redman told Barbados TODAY.
Morris, who in the interview had called for the removal of Principal Vere Parris, is on sick leave until the end of the school term, which ends on Thursday.
Redman said the BSTU was scheduled to meet with officials from the Ministry of Education at 2 p.m. today to discuss the environmental issues facing both Combermere and Springer Memorial Secondary School, but that meeting was cancelled because the Waterford, St Michael school held its speech day today.
“We want to hear what the Ministry has to say to us and we have some recommendations to make especially at Springer to make the whole situation easier for staff and so on, initially to see how that works.
“Combermere continues to be a real problem for the persons who use the plant and therefore we will have to try and get to some serious investigation in relation to that school. There was some work done on the wells outside the headmaster’s office, I understand from Thursday last week, [and we want the details on this],” she said.
Meanwhile, at today’s speech day and prize giving ceremony, Parris said he anticipated that work to rid the school of any lingering environmental problems would be concluded during the upcoming Easter holiday.
“It is our hope that all this work having been completed that everyone will be comfortable and be able to work in total uninterrupted comfort,” he said.
“There is less control over the external environment but initiatives are being undertaken by the Ministry of Education to mitigate those circumstances as well,” he added.
The Combermere principal reported a difficult year for the school, which was hit by the Chikungunya outbreak in the first term, environmental issues in the second term and the relocation of classes to the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic in term three.
“In spite of these tremendous challenges, the overall performance was creditable and in some cases, excellent to outstanding,” he reported.
The school recorded an overall pass rate of 89 per cent at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level and over 90 per cent in CAPE Unit Two, but it did not do as well at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
“The students at the CSEC level feared worst and recorded the lowest overall pass rate in many a year. We had those outstanding performances, but overall we would say that the impacts we had would have affected our CSEC the most,” the principal noted.
Alexander Huey was the top male CAPE student, with Paula Ramirez-Melero as the top female, while Alanna Brathwaite was the top female student at CSEC, with Eric Trotman, who is currently on a United World College scholarship, as the top male.
Past student and Senate President Kerry-Ann Ifill delivered the feature address. The visually impaired Ifill told the students that despite the challenges, the school had a lot to be proud of.
“What Combermere means is an opportunity. Combermere would never be great, it would never be all that it is to us, if it didn’t rise above every difficulty that comes its way, as we will, as we have, as we shall forever. Combermere is exactly what our statement says, we always go up and on,” she stressed.