Dr. Lorna McKay came out to the media earlier this month after receiving a letter formally putting her on administrative leave for twenty days. The letter was personally delivered to her on August 7 by the School Board Chairman, Roosevelt Blades. Dr. McKay has claimed victimization and has stated that the intimidation tactics by Blades have been ongoing for some time now. Minister of Education, Patrick Faber was away during this development but we spoke with him yesterday on the matter which he says is sanctioned by the school board.
Patrick Faber – Minister of Education
“I was saddened to see the situation at Gwen Liz go that route. Gwen Liz as you know is the only high school in my constituency and so it is very dear to me and furthermore it is a government owned school. We have long heard about complaints about the quality of leadership at Gwen Liz. I will make that no secret and as a result the Ministry of Education sent in a team to look at what was going on there, this team was made up of senior secondary educators, retired educators and the report coming back from that investigation was not pretty and in fact signaled that there was a lot going on a lot of things that could have been improved and could have been done at the school. I think that Dr. McKay was very unfair to the chairman of the board in targeting him. Everybody knows that the chairman of the board is also my aide, I disclose that fully, but she made it seem that it was kind of a targeting on the part of the chairman on her personally. I will make it clear that to my knowledge, the chairman acted with the support of the entire board of governors there at Gwen Liz and in fact acted in consultation with the Solicitor General’s Office; as it is a government entity that is the place that they seek legal advice and also with the concurrence and the support of the Ministry of Education. There is no final pronouncement on the Dr. McKay situation. What is merely happening is that she has been served a letter for administrative leave while an investigation is being conducted, that is perfectly in line with what the education act and rules specify. She will be given an opportunity to answer to the charges. I know that the media has gotten a hold of the letter stating the reasons why Dr. McKay was put on administrative leave and the charges against her and her duties and she will be given an opportunity to answer for those charges. Now if at the end of the day she is vindicated from such charges then we go back to business as normal but if it is not, then we will proceed to find a new principal for Gwen Liz.
As Faber noted, there were several concerns noted that are currently being investigated whilst Dr McKay is on leave. He, however, did not want to get into the specifics of those concerns.
Patrick Faber – Minister of Education
“Well there is a letter that I’m sure was I’m pretty sure that at least one media house broke into details about it, I think it may have been the Amandala that was on the front page of that newspaper. I only had a chance to briefly peruse the letter and I really don’t feel comfortable getting into it because I want people to be clear that while it is a government owned school; you remember some years ago we also had a problem at Escuela Mexico and while these are government owned schools, the government and the Ministry of Education can do very little in terms of going in there and making changes. If that were the case, and given that I am the kind of person who my only agenda is to improve education, they can say what they want about Faber, but in terms of education and my professional role, that is my goal. I wish I could intervene in some of these schools that are government schools and even those that are not to have a hand of correction in what goes on but that is not the way it works. The managing authority of a school is the board of governors and that board of governors is not handpicked by the Ministry you might even say in this instance that the Chairman is the Minister’s aide and he is, but that chairmanship role was given to him by the rest of the board members that were selected by representative bodies; the parents, teachers the alumni all of that so that when a decision is made like the one that is being made now, that is a decision that comes from the board and that board is a stakeholder body as opposed to anything that is handpicked and even though we are the proprietors we can’t move like that and we can’t operate like that. So nobody should blame the government of any impropriety in a school, be it government or denominational or anything that is going on that the board is doing.”
Dr. McKay’s leave runs until August 28 when school will be reopening.