Fri | Jul 19, 2019

Hold off on return to JC – ‘Butch’

Published:Thursday | March 21, 2019 | 12:27 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

A marathon meeting of the Jamaica College board, which finished late last night, ended in a stalemate as executives were warned that they did not have the authority to fire Ruel Reid as principal even as some senior members want to set the government discard loose, The Gleaner understands.

The board will request that the Ministry of Education, which now falls under Prime Minister Andrew Holness, have Reid fired as soon as possible, a source told The Gleaner last night.

Reid should forget about returning as principal of Jamaica College until and unless he is cleared of corruption allegations, prominent old boy and benefactor Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson has told The Gleaner.

The philanthropist, a member of the Jamaica College Foundation and chairman and CEO of Continental Baking Company Ltd, said last night that Reid, who was forced to resign as minister yesterday over corruption allegations, should await completion of investigations before considering a return as principal.

“I think Mr Reid should wait for the results of investigations. I expect it would be a proper investigation and not some simple investigation because the allegations are serious enough for him to resign his posts,” said the bakery magnate.

“Afterwards, if not guilty, I don’t see any reason he should not wish to go back in the Cabinet if the prime minister sees fit. If guilty as charged, there should be no further discussion.”

Reid, 52, a career educator, was seconded in 2016 to allow him to take up ministerial duties in the Andrew Holness-led Cabinet through the Senate.

He was given marching orders yesterday after revelations emerged that he was under a high-level probe by the police and other investigative agencies in relation to corruption at the education ministry.

He also quit the Senate.

Reid told The Gleaner in January that his contract with JC had been extended till 2021.

Up to late last night, members of the Jamaica College board were huddled in a high-stakes meeting, which started midafternoon and which sought to decide on Reid’s fate.

Attempts to contact board Chairman Michael Bernard and Wayne Robinson, the acting principal standing in for Reid, were unsuccessful.

The parent-teacher association of the all-boy high school on Old Hope Road, St Andrew, will meet at 7 o’clock this morning, and the old boys’ association will do the same later today, The Gleaner has learnt.

diaspora angry

The newspaper also understands that there is a groundswell of anger from past students in the diaspora who have threatened that they will demand the board’s resignation if it doesn’t sever ties with Reid.

When The Gleaner visited the school yesterday, the news team was ordered from the compound by JC officials.

Hendrickson said a speedy return to principalship at JC would send mixed signals.

Hendrickson explained that he could not see “how somebody found guilty of the situation could hold a post as principal in any school. What message would you be sending at that point? Just think of the children ... . We need to do what is right for the kids”.

In a statement yesterday, the People’s National Party’s Youth Organisation demanded that Reid not return, citing that such a role “must be held by one firm on principle, integrity and good judgement”.

The statement further suggested that what has been uncovered in the ministry could surmount the web of nepotism and waste that was unearthed at Petrojam, alluding to a major corruption scandal that forced the resignation of then Energy Minister Andrew Wheatley and a number of top-level officials at the state oil refinery.

“Mr Reid should not be allowed to serve on any state boards in the near future,” the statement added.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com