Fri | Jun 18, 2021

What Reid wants - Fired education minister seeks return to $2m incentive arrangement with JC

Published:Friday | July 12, 2019 | 12:22 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer

Ruel Reid, the discarded former minister of education, youth and information, is pushing for Jamaica College (JC) to resume paying him millions of dollars in principal’s incentives he received while on active duty as head of the Old Hope Road, St Andrew-based high school, more than three years after he last occupied the office.

At the same time, there is rumbling among the school’s old boys, with concerns being raised about the “inordinately long time” current head of the institution, Wayne Robinson, has been left acting as principal.

Reid is currently on eight months’ vacation leave from the institution, following the end of his two-year secondment to the education ministry on March 7, 2018, and his dismissal as education minister a year later. That departure in March 2019 had resulted in an early conclusion to a three-year special leave arrangement which followed the end of his secondment and was expected to run until March 2021. His eight months of vacation leave ends in November.

When Prime Minister Andrew Holness removed Reid from the education ministry in March of this year, the school board voted to send him on administrative leave and opted not to reintroduce the incentives it had provided before he joined the ministry.

The Gleaner understands that those incentives include more than $2 million per annum in additional salary, a fully furnished house and absolution of payment of all utility bills.

However, approaches have been made to the school’s board, on Reid’s behalf, for him to continue receiving the incentives “given that he remains principal of the institution”.

Earlier this week, several JC old boys who met with The Gleaner but preferred to remain anonymous, said they were distressed by the limbo in which Robinson has been left and Reid’s continued association with the school.

“I read in your paper just this morning (Tuesday) that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) general secretary, Dr Horace Chang, said that Reid can’t run on the party’s ticket in a general election. If he is not good enough for Jamaica politics, why should he continue serving as principal of Jamaica College?” asked one of the old boys.

Board decision puzzles

Another said he was puzzled by the board’s decision to approve special leave.

“Mark you, they are not in breach of the provisions, but we knew a lot of things that ought to have caused members to say, ‘Wait a minute’,” he said.

Reid became principal of Jamaica College in 2006 but was asked to join the Cabinet as minister of education in March 2016 two weeks after the JLP won the general election.

Two years later, when his secondment was over and the request for three years special leave was submitted, there were objections from at least three of the representative groups that make up the board. A majority voted for approval.

On March 10, 2018, Dean-Roy Bernard, the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, wrote to the school advising that the request for three years leave had been endorsed by the ministry. He asked that JC act with dispatch in affirming the request to allow Reid to continue in his job as minister.

Again, at least three board groups objected.

It is understood that the old boys’ association and “old boys in general”, the parent-teacher association and the Students’ Council were among the most vociferous objectors to the school’s continuing relationship with Reid. There was no commitment to paying any portion of the monies, and/or emoluments paid by the school to its principal as incentive.