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Edna vice-chair quits board - Principal could be out for more than a month; VPs to steer ship

Published:Thursday | August 29, 2019 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Hylton Parker
Students and staff of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts protest outside the Arthur Wint Drive gates in St Andrew yesterday as they voiced concerns in writing, song, and dance over issues gripping the fine-arts college.


Hours ahead of the delivery of a letter of suspension to principal of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, the vice-chair of the board of governors, Sheryn Hylton Parker, broke ranks with her colleagues.

Hylton Parker, who, up to news time last night, did not give a reason for resigning, told The Gleaner, “I don’t like to drink my coffee when it is piping hot.”

Appointed by former Minister of Education Ruel Reid in May 2016, Hylton Parker was scheduled to end her tenure in May this year; however, she said that she was asked verbally by current chair, Marigold Harding, to remain until the end of this month, when the rest of the board is expected to demit office.

An Edna Manley School of Drama alumnus, Hylton Parker said that the only letter she has from the Ministry of Education regarding her appointment points to a May 2019 end of tenure.

“I cannot speak on behalf of any other board member, and it is possible that I was sent a letter or email from the ministry extending my appointment, but I have not received it,” she stated.

Harding was appointed in November 2018 after former chair Melanie Subratie resigned. It is not clear how long her appointment will last.

Hylton Parker, said she had no idea that the college’s principal, Dr Nicholeen DeGrasse-Johnson, had been given a letter of suspension, adding that she learnt of it via the media.

Her resignation comes at a time when the college is still reeling from the effects of the case of sexual harassment, which The Gleaner brought to public attention in May, and as staff express concern about possible disruptions by the board at the start of the new school year.

Yesterday, a source close to the matter told The Gleaner that DeGrasse-Johnson has been suspended until a hearing is held on the pressing matter. No timeline has been set for the hearing, which, the source said, might not be held before the end of September.

The school’s two vice-principals have reportedly been advised of the suspension, and things are expected to proceed smoothly as the new school year begins, the source said.

The Gleaner understands that if an acting principal were to be named, the appointment would have to be approved by the Ministry of Education.