Sun | Oct 1, 2023


Published:Thursday | June 1, 2023 | 1:05 AM

New CPFSA CEO to be named soon

The Office of the Services Commission is in the process of interviewing candidates for the post of chief executive officer at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).

Fayval Williams, minister of education and youth, told Wednesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing that the successful candidate would be named in short order.

Michelle McIntosh Harvey, the CPFSA’s director of finance, has been the interim CEO since April.

The position of CEO became vacant in January when Rosalee Gage-Grey was asked to step down from the role amid controversy following a damaging report surrounding American Carl Robanske and his agency, Embracing Orphans.

An investigation by the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) cited gross breach of care in the controversial partnership between the CPFSA and Robanske, who was flagged in the United States over inappropriate sexual contact with a child.

Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison’s 93-page report contains 10 findings and four recommendations, one of which is for disciplinary action to be taken against Gage-Grey for her “gross breach of the duty of care owed to wards of the State and former wards”.

Williams said support for child protection will be bolstered as Marsha Smith was recently appointed state minister with a focus on the child protection sector.

“It’s a huge sector. It’s an important sector. Annually, just the staggering number of children who are abused in our society, we have to get out there into communities with programmes to help the adults in the lives of these children understand their role as caregivers, not as abusers,” the education and youth minister said.

Black River High to exit shift system

Come September, Black River High School in St Elizabeth will no longer operate on a shift system.

Education Minister Fayval Williams said she inherited 30 shift schools when she became minister and has set about ensuring that the ministry receives adequate budgetary allocation to create additional classrooms at the primary and secondary institutions.

Bllack River High has a population of 1,580 students.

Principal Christopher Romans told The Gleaner that the education ministry, in collaboration with the Japanese government, constructed a new block that consists of eight classrooms, a science laboratory, and a home economics laboratory.

The principal said the school has also built two additional classrooms to further expand capacity.

“There are areas that we will repurpose into classrooms. For example, we will convert one of the old science labs into a classroom, and other spaces that the home economics department will no longer occupy, we will convert them into classrooms to create more space,” he told The Gleaner.

Romans said parents are elated with the transition as some students travel from deep rural areas of St Elizabeth, and transportation has always been a challenge.

“From the meetings we have had with them, they are really looking forward to us coming off shift. Our only concern now is to ensure that transportation is in place so that all 1,580 students can get to school on time,” he said.

Education minister says relationship with JTA president remains cordial

Education Minister Fayval Williams has denied assertions that her relationship with the president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), La Sonja Harrison, has broken down.

Williams said since becoming minister, she has prided herself on having a very cordial and professional relationship with the JTA.

“I take seriously their monthly meetings that are scheduled. I ensure that whatever issues come to the fore, research is done and we are able to respond at the next meeting. I respect the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, I respect the role that they play, but I just have to respond when there is mischief in the system. The ministry can’t be silent. The ministry has to respond to say that is not so or this is how it is from our perspective,” Williams said during yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Her comments follow a release on Tuesday from the ministry she heads, in which the claim of a teacher receiving only $6.68 in salary for March 2023 was described as “blatantly false”.

In that release, she called for rationality to prevail and for the specifics of the teacher’s situation to be presented to the education ministry to allow adequate research and response as a destabilised education sector serves no one.

“We have to respond if someone is going around talking about the ministry not responding, talking about generalities. We have to respond to let Jamaicans know what’s the other side. We have to bring balance to the situation,” the minister remarked.