Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Fired teacher to be reinstated

Published:Tuesday | September 1, 2015 | 9:00 AMBarbara Gayle

The Teachers' Appeal Tribunal has ordered that Marcia Ruddock, a teacher who was fired last year from Grange Hill High School, Westmoreland, must be reinstated because the rules of natural justice were breached.

Attorneys-at-law AndrÈ Earle and Nickeisha Young Shand, who represented Ruddock, said they were hoping that the Ministry of Education would take all the necessary steps to have her back on the job for the new term, which begins next week.

Earle said she had been off the job for a year now and was entitled to her salary and emoluments.

After she was dismissed by the board of management of Grange Hill High School in October last year, she filed several grounds of appeal contending that the acting principal, Monica McIntyre, who made allegations against her, did not attend the hearing of the Personnel Committee on September 23, 2014. She complained that she was not given an opportunity to cross-examine her accuser, which was contrary to the Education Regulations.

Principles of natural justice

Ruddock was accused of professional misconduct and neglect of duty.

In allowing the appeal, the tribunal said, "Our mandate as a tribunal requires us to give due regards to the principles of natural justice. A teacher charged must be given an opportunity to confront the accuser and test the veracity of the account given by said accuser via the process of cross-examination. The absence of the complainant does indeed deprive the charged teacher from hearing the verbal evidence of the complaint and challenging same. The net result is that the deficient process was prejudicial to the appellant herein."

The tribunal also agreed that the Personnel Committee failed in its letter dated September 2, 2014 to notify the appellant of the details of the charges.

"Both parties were at one with regard to the fact that details of the charges were not availed to the teacher charged," the tribunal said.

The tribunal found that omission of the details of the allegations detracted from the validity of the process and denied the teacher of the full benefits of the rules of natural justice.

Commenting further on the issue, the tribunal said, "It is not our mandate to try or retry cases. However, we must be satisfied that a decision handed down by the school board is compliant with law, and that the rules of natural justice were applied in the examination of the matter."

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com