JC Old Boys want Government to take 'burden' off school


Sunday, October 13, 2019

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DISGRACED principal of Jamaica College, Ruel Reid, should be removed immediately as head of the management of the all-boys institution, graduates of the school have stated.

In interviews between Thursday and Friday with 16 old boys who have contributed to the high school in tangible ways, some of whom hold influential positions in the Jamaican society, the former students, who said they were speaking out of concern for the potential harm that the matter of the arrest and charge of Reid and others had done to the school, said they would “pull every string” to see that the former education minister goes, forever.

Jamaica College Old Boys' Association President Major Basil Jarrett told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that he could not comment on the matter at hand, as he is also a member of the school's board of governors.

Major Jarrett would only say that “we are awaiting the outcome of the investigations and the trial”. But others, who all asked that their names be left out of this article due to varying circumstances, said it was time that the education minister, or the broader Government, chop Reid from the school, totally.

“As concerned old boys we want the Government, or the minister of education to get rid of Ruel Reid from Jamaica College right now,” one said.

“I don't know how the Government saw it fit to remove Mr Reid from the Ministry of Education and not remove him from JC. Why has he not been removed from JC in the same way that he has been removed as a minister?” the old boy asked.

Reid had been appointed principal of JC in 2012, but was granted special leave to the education ministry in 2016. That leave was extended in 2018.

Reid, 53; his wife Sharen, 49; daughter Sharelle, 24; councillor for the Brown's Town Division in the St Ann Municipal Corporation Kim Brown Lawrence, 40; and Caribbean Maritime University President Professor Fritz Pinnock, 55, were charged last week with several fraud-related offences by detectives from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, the Financial Investigations Division, and the Constabulary Financial Unit of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch, of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

Allegations include that Reid and Pinnock organised a scheme to syphon off money for their personal operations through the Career Advancement Programme-Youth Empowerment Solution, popularly known as CAP-YES.

The three women were said to be beneficiaries of the scheme.

Reid served as senator and minister of education, youth and information after Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced his Cabinet in March 2016. But the former Munro College student was fired by Holness three years after in March this year when the allegations first landed in the public space.

One JC old boy insisted that the failure of the education ministry to remove Reid is because there is a “settlement issue” that still exists at the school located on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.

“What Reid wants is to have the settlement with JC dealt with, because there is no way that he can return to JC as principal ... no way under the sun,” the old boy said.

“As long as the ministry (education) leaves him at JC, we have to settle with him and that's not right,” the old boy went on.

“The onus is back on JC to settle, and this is what this thing is all about,” another in earshot chipped in.

“You just can't have a principal who has been accused in this manner even contemplating going back before thousands of boys. What example has he set for the youth? He must be reassigned and removed from JC's books, so we won't have to be saddled with that burden of having to pay him off for anything and in any way,” another said.

One of the old boys told the Sunday Observer a story of a JC student almost coming to fisticuffs with a boy from another Corporate Area high school at a bus stop in Liguanea, St Andrew, close to JC, on Thursday, which he said reflected badly on the school.

According to the past student, the confrontation was sparked by an uncomplimentary accusation relating to the accusations against Reid and levelled at the JC boy.

“It almost led to a fight and the boys had to be pulled apart. These things hurt, and so it is essential that the matter be put to rest once and for all, as far as Jamaica College is concerned, and in the interest of the school that we love so much,” the old boy said.

Reid had been making plans to return to JC next month after his eight-month vacation leave ends, what with his dismissal from the Cabinet, but the latest development would almost make such a move irrelevant and void.

He told Nationwide Radio recently, in an attempt to contradict a Sunday Observer report that he wanted his JC job back, that he was involved in “negotiations” with the JC Board to settle the matter of his tenure, but declined to go into details.

At the same time Reid, who was appointed Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) caretaker-candidate for the St Ann North Western constituency in which Brown Lawrence's Brown's Town Division falls, told the station that he was still the candidate for the ruling JLP, despite utterances to the contrary by officials of the party. A swift statement by the JLP's hierarchy that same day suspended, indefinitely, Reid's dream of becoming an elected member of parliament, as the party stated, categorically, that the under-pressure former Cabinet minister had been replaced as its representative.

There have been no further utterances by Reid on the matter.

In the meantime, JC old boys say they are happy with the management of Acting Principal Wayne Robinson, whom they refer to in some conversation as “Crime Stop”.

“He has exceeded all expectations and he is the right man for the job,” one old boy suggested.

“He is a brilliant individual; firm but fair, and he has the right attitude and personality of taking the school to that higher level. He is even better-looking than Reid, although that is not important. Right now we need to shake off some of the stigma that has afflicted JC like a plague. Bottom line is, Reid must go, Robinson must stay,” another old boy said.

Reid and the other accused individuals are due in court for their first mention date on January 23 next year.

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