Thu | Jul 16, 2020

JTA head hits back at ‘bitter’ Pembroke Hall principal

Published:Wednesday | May 27, 2020 | 9:58 AM
Jamaica Teachers’ Association President Owen Speid - File photo

Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) President Owen Speid has fired back at a public rebuke from Principal of Pembroke Hall High, Reverend Claude Ellis, saying the school leader is ‘bitter’ and should focus on fixing problems at his institution.

In a rare and open criticism of a JTA boss by a current principal, Ellis, in a letter to The Gleaner published today, scolded Speid for his leadership of the powerful union.

He argued that Speid has not tried to work with the policy of getting students back in school for June to prepare for July-August external exams.

And he rejected Speid’s description of administrators being “wicked” for asking teachers to attend school during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am begging for some quality representation from my union. I don’t need only a watchdog to criticise everything that is being done, but a union with recommendations and answers,” the principal said.

“Step up and lead, Sir.”

READ: Wanted: quality representation from JTA

But Speid is rubbishing the criticisms, arguing that the principal has not moved on from the decision of his school board not to dismiss a JTA-backed teacher at Pembroke Hall who was investigated for allegedly threatening a student.

“Mr Ellis is just simply bitter because he didn’t have his way in firing the teacher,” the JTA head told The Gleaner, noting that the union’s positions on Caribbean Examinations Council exams and school reopening are not different from regional counterparts and some student groups.

Speid said there was “no substance” to any of the issues raised Ellis, who he says should pay more attention to the running of his school.

“From all reports from the teachers, Mr Ellis has contributed to the breakdown of discipline in his school because when the teachers carry their complaints to him, he does nothing to remedy the situation,” he said.

“And that is why there are so many fights …teachers getting blows all over.”

Last November, Pembroke Hall dominated headlines after the emergence of a video showing Marsha Lee Crawford verbally directing violent threats at a student.

A disciplinary panel in February did not recommend her termination, saying the incident did not amount to any other action than a reprimand.

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