Don't move so fast on Reid

...Rev Wickham to JC Old Boys

Sunday, October 20, 2019

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Former school board chairman, Rev Roy Wickham, has cautioned old boys of Jamaica College who want to see embattled Principal Ruel Reid sacked to proceed with caution as there are delicate procedures to be followed and according to him, the process of separation might not be that easy.

In a response to the lead story in the Sunday Observer last week, headlined 'Rid Us Of Reid' ... JC Old Boys want Government to take 'burden' off school, Rev Wickham said that there were certain procedures that must be followed, adding that not because Reid was fired as a Cabinet minister on secondment from Jamaica College, means that he should automatically be booted from the institution.

Reid, along with his wife, Sheren, daughter, Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence of the St Ann Municipal Corporation, and president of the Caribbean Maritime University, Professor Fritz Pinnock, were charged recently by police with several fraud-based offences.

They are due in court next January.

Reid served as principal of Jamaica College from 2012 until he was approved by the JC school board for secondment to the Cabinet and specifically the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information in March 2016.

Here is the full text of Rev Wickham's letter to the editor:

I read your article in your paper and wish to make a response with a view to clarify some issues as I know them from my many years of experience in managing school boards.

I have had the privilege of managing school boards since 1991 and have actively participated in discussions and decisions with permanent members of staff in relation to secondment.

The issue of Ruel Reid is a very tricky one in that he is in the permanent employ of Jamaica College (JC) and was also seconded to the Ministry of Education as minister of education, where he would now have supervision of JC to include the appointment of the board.

With the allegations levelled against him and subsequent charges, he, the Ministry of Education, the prime minister and the school board are all in a bind.

The fact that he was on secondment means that he was no longer responsible for the day-to-day activities of the school and hence was not obligated to answer to the board during that time. He was answerable to the prime minister.

With the allegations against him and the prime minister firing him, he was now out on a limb as he was neither at the school nor at the ministry. For him to have returned to the school he and the board would have had to come to some compromise because based on the secondment agreement it was to be until 2021, hence someone was temporarily employed to his position.

Your article seem to be suggesting that the old boys are anxious to see his back at JC and would even want the ministry to remove him, or what I consider a laughing matter that the school has to pay him up is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction and lack of knowledge.

The old boys' concerns may be well intentioned and rationally sound but there is need for caution for the following reasons:

(1) Reid is permanently employed as principal since 2012 at JC, and has committed no acts against JC as minister of education;

(2) Reid cannot be removed from JC unless he resigns, retires or he and the board have a mutual agreement for separation;

(3) The allegations and subsequent charges against Reid are matters involving his time at the Ministry of Education.

Your article also suggests that the board approved eight months vacation leave since his departure from the Ministry of Education. If that happened, it would appear to me that the board erred, as during the period of secondment the board has no jurisdiction over Reid and hence would not be in a position to grant him such leave.

It is very safe to date to say that since Reid has been fired from the Ministry of Education whilst on secondment from JC, he is still legally unattached from JC until 2021, unless there is a mutual change in the arrangement between him and the JC board.

Kindly note that JC is still legally in a relationship with (Wayne) Robinson who has been temporarily employed in Reid's position.

Would the government pay two principals at the same time at the same institution?

It would be helpful to acquaint yourself with the 1980 Education Regulation and read the section that deals with how teachers are to be dismissed if necessary.


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