WEDNESDAY, MAY 23: Relieved parents at two primary schools yesterday celebrated after a judge said they could appeal a controversial decision to move head teachers to different schools.
Lawyer Eugene Johnston, who appeared at the in-chambers hearing for the TN Tatem Middle School and Victor Scott Primary PTAs, said his clients were relieved that they would have their day in court and a judicial review of the changes.
The head teachers of four schools, including TN Tatem and Victor Scott, were due to move by the start of the new school year in September.
But Mr Johnston said; “We hope to have a decision by the start of the new school year – or if it takes longer than that, that these transfers are put on hold until there is a decision.
“The parents are pleased with the court’s decision – in these matters, there is always a reluctance to celebrate until after you have leave to appeal.
“The court has let them go ahead and they can see they now have the opportunity to argue their points, particularly the one about consultation and the right to be involved in the well-being of their children – a right they have been denied by the Ministry of Education and the Commissioner of Education.”
A further hearing will be held on June 7.
The Ministry of Education announced in March that Victor Scott Primary principal Valerie Williams would be transferred to East End Primary at the start of the new school session later this year.
The head of the Pembroke school will be replaced by Purvis Primary School head Judith Alexander, while East End Primary principal Idonia Beckles will move to Warwick’s TN Tatem. The current head of TN Tatem, Francine McMahon, will move to Purvis.
Mr Johnston said before the hearing in front of Chief Justice Ian Kawaley that the two PTAs would argue that – as both schools were doing well – there was no legal basis for the transfers.
He added: “It will also be contended that, in many respects, the decisions are unreasonable. In addition and of extreme importance, TN Tatem PTA and Victor Scott PTA will say that the Ministry of Education had an obligation to consult with parents before making a decision of such wide-ranging potential consequence.”
He said after the ruling: “There is a dictatorial style of leadership in the Education Ministry which says leaders tell you what you want and what is good for you.
“Even though the people who run the Ministry of Education say parents are their partners and they want to engage their genius, instead they centralize their power. It’s not just engaging PTA to exercise their rights over the welfare of their children, but breaking down this style of management in the Education Ministry.”
More than 100 parents and pupils from Victor Scott and TN Tatem last month marched on the House of Assembly to ram home their opposition to the transfers. They warned then that they were prepared to take legal action to challenge Ministry moves to shake up the schools.