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Principals' body wants details on school audits

Published:Friday | January 14, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Gabbidon

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

THE ASSOCIATION of Principals and Vice-Principals will be seeking information from the Ministry of Education on audits carried out at the Porus and Buff Bay high schools in Manchester and Portland, respectively.

The audits were done by the Public Accountability Inspectorate (PAI) in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Nadine Molloy, was principal at Buff Bay High, while former JTA President Michael Stewart is the principal of Porus High.

Wentworth Gabbidon, president of the principals and vice-principals' association, said his organisation would be having a meeting later this month, at which time the issue would be discussed.

Asked about other audits

Gabbidon stayed clear of accusing the Government of ulterior motives but told The Gleaner that he would want to know whether audits were conducted at other schools during the period of the two assessments.

He reasoned that if Porus High and Buff Bay High were the only two schools selected for audits by the PAI, his association would want to know why the two schools were targeted.

News surfaced in Gordon House on Tuesday that an audit was being conducted at Buff Bay High.

Dr Peter Phillips, who divulged the information in the House of Representatives, asked Finance Minister Audley Shaw why the Porus High was included on the PAI's list of institutions to audit since it did not seem to have the same significance as other major projects that were the subject of inspection.

"I understand that in relation to the Buff Bay High School, where the current president of the JTA was principal, a similar audit was done and we need to know and be assured that we are not finding a pattern of witch-hunting," Phillips said.

Chuck's caution

However, House Speaker Delroy Chuck cautioned Phillips about allegations that could not be substantiated.

Shaw told the House that a report on the audit of Porus High School would be made available to the Opposition next week.

However, Phillips signalled that he would be asking questions next week about the audit of Buff Bay High.

Education Minister and Leader of Government Business Andrew Holness indicated that he was ready to respond to any question.

Holness said the Ministry of Education, in its normal course of auditing schools, conducted one at Buff Bay High.

"Since the member raised the issue I will, although it is not the usual practice, but since the member brought it into the public domain, I will make the audit available to him and should it be necessary could possibly consider making the audit public as well."

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com