Ruel Reid flies in the face of public sentiment
The timing of Ruel Reid’s request for extended leave could not have been worse, as the country had only just learned of the fact taxpayers were still contributing to his finances long after the educator and minister had fallen from grace as the centre of a corruption case.
5 MORE YEARS
Ruel Reid eyes $23m payday with extended leave till 2026
Erica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
EMBATTLED FORMER Education Minister Ruel Reid has applied for an extension of special leave from Jamaica College, the St Andrew high school from which he was seconded for national duties, until 2026.
Hours after the incumbent minister, Fayval Williams, told Wednesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing that the Government was seeking legal advice on how to proceed, The Gleaner learnt that the Government’s quandary may intensify with his August 2 application to the Jamaica College board.
Responding to questions at the briefing, Williams told The Gleaner that the ministry was still awaiting a response.
“So, of course, considering the sensitive nature of those issues, we would have sought legal advice as to exactly what is the direction, what should we do? At this moment we still await the conclusion of that, and so we would not have anything additional to report this morning,” said Williams.
Should his application be approved, Reid stands to make $23 million more at his current annual salary of $4.6 million. Reid is being paid a monthly salary of $388,277.67.
His current leave will expire in November 2021.
Taxpayers are financing the salary of Wayne Robinson, who has been acting for Reid since 2016, when Reid was seconded from JC to become the minister of education, youth and information under the Holness 2016 administration. He resigned in 2018 after allegations of criminal misbehaviour surfaced.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness assumed responsibility for the portfolio.
Reid’s wife, Sharen, his daughter Sharelle, Caribbean Maritime University President Dr Fritz Pinnock, and Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence are also charged with fraud.
Jamaica College board Chairman Michael Bernard confirmed receipt of Reid’s application for leave extension issued on August 2.
“Yes, I can confirm that I am in receipt of a letter from Mr Reid. However, the board has not yet met, where the matter will be discussed,” Bernard told The Gleaner on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, I do not have the letter before me, so I am unable to say what the contents are. However, you can be assured that anything that currently obtains, we are on legal footing as we have acted on legal advice,” he stated.
Bernard said that “matters in relation to the future of Ruel Reid are in the hands of the Ministry of Education” in conjunction with the board.
When the ministry was first asked in August about the current status of Reid and Pinnock’s special leave, a spokesperson said: “CMU has a council and JC has a board. You should try to get the information from them.”
Special Leave provisions are covered in the Education Regulation, Section 68, which says, inter alia, that “a teacher in a public education institution may be allowed special leave with or without pay as the minister may approve on the recommendation of the board to enable the teacher … ” to undertake a number of activities.
Section F of Item 68 states that one of those reasons may be classified as “to be absent for such other reasons as the minister may approve”.
However, an interested legal party has dismissed the current situation as a circus.
“The minister and permanent secretary are deliberately avoiding the option that is within the remit of the PS. That is, to recommend to the governor general that Reid is retired in the public interest. The permanent secretary has that authority under the Teacher Service Regulation and the actions of the former minister while in office make such a recommendation appropriate,” said the attorney, who requested anonymity.
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