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Hampton board backs principal's decision not to go on leave

Published:Wednesday | January 18, 2017 | 8:48 AM
Heather Murray

The board of the St Elizabeth-based Hampton School is backing embattled principal Heather Murray who has decided not to go on two weeks’ leave in the wake of the controversy over her attendance at the bail hearing of an alleged sex offender.

Murray has challenged the education ministry’s decision to send her on leave, and showed up for work on Monday.

The education ministry had announced that the Hampton principal would go on two weeks' leave starting Monday following the backlash after her attendance at the bail hearing of Moravian pastor, Rupert Clarke.

Clarke is accused of having sex with a minor.

IN PHOTO: Principal of the Hampton School Heather Murray (right) smiles as Moravian minister Rupert Clarke (left) is led away from the St Elizabeth Parish Court

Education Minister, Ruel Reid, had stated that the decision for Murray to go on leave was mutually arrived at during a meeting last week involving the ministry, Hampton School's trustees and the principal.

But in a letter dated January 16, Hampton board chairman, Trevor Blake, said the ministry’s letter outlining the key decisions from the meeting did not accurately reflect what happened.

Blake says the proposal that Murray go on two weeks’ leave was made by the education minister and was not endorsed by representatives of the board or the Munro and Dickenson Trust.

He contends that to direct Murray to go on leave would raise serious legal questions.

IN PHOTO: Education Minister Ruel Reid

In addition, Blake says the issue of the Child Care and Protection Act was never raised and there could never have been an agreement that Murray’s actions breached that Act.

Blake further states that the school is at a critical point with upcoming external examinations and Murray’s involvement is crucial.

According to him, her withdrawal at this time would be deleterious.

On Monday the Ministry of Education said Reid would not comment further on the matter until the board submits a report by February 3.