WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1: Two groups of parents have cause for celebration today after a judge overturned a decision to transfer head teachers.
Chief Justice Ian Kawaley described the transfers of teachers without notice as “an abuse of power”.
And he backed the views of Parent Teacher Associations from Warwick’s TN Tatem Middle School and Pembroke’s Victor Scott Primary that Ministry of Education officials could not transfer the teachers without consultation.
A joint press release issued by lawyers for the two PTAs said: “Evaluating that decision, we realise that this is one of those rare and exceptional occasions where everyone involved and affected scores a victory.
“The judicial system has triumphed by fulfilling its mandate to provide a forum for disputes to be addressed and then to wisely apply the law, guiding the parties on to a path that provided a fruitful outcome for the benefit of society.”
Anger erupted in the two PTAs in March after education ministry officials said that Victor Scott principal Valerie Williams would be transferred to East End Primary.
And the current head of TN Tatem. Francine McMahon, was slated to move to Purvis Primary.
Ms Williams was to have been replaced by Purvis head Valerie Williams, while Ms McMahon was to be replaced by Idonia Beckles, the principal of East End Primary.
Lawyer Eugene Johnston earlier said at a Supreme Court hearing in front of Mr Kawaley that the two PTAs would argue that — as both schools were doing well — there was no legal basis for the transfers.
More than 100 parents and pupils from Victor Scott and TN Tatem in April marched on the House of Assembly to voice their opposition to the moves.
They warned then that they were prepared to take legal action to challenge Ministry moves to shake up the schools.
Today’s statement said: “Parents now have a platform on which to stand to exercise our responsibility to ensure that the education system serves our children as its top priority.
“It is now up to us to uphold that responsibility with appreciation of the invaluable benefits we stand to gain for doing so and the unacceptable we will incur if we do not.
“And, most importantly, the judgment is a victory for our children in that they will no longer be systemically deprived of their parents working with decision-makers to guide their educational development.”
Mr Kawaley’s written judgment said that parents had legitimate grounds for expecting that they would be consulted — especially as PTAs had been told they would fill the role normally played by Boards of Governors.
Mr Kawaley said: “Flowing from this, the applicants had, in relation to the impugned transfer decisions, a procedural legitimate expectation that they would be consulted before any momentous decision, such as the transfer of the principals, was made by the respondents.
“The promise relied upon is fundamental a part of the proper exercise of the respondents’ statutory powers in relation to managing maintained schools that it constituted an abuse of power to depart from it without notice.”