'We've taken this matter seriously'

Champs sponsor GraceKennedy says alleged teacher assault leaves sour taste

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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Title sponsor GraceKennedy was seriously contemplating preventing the two Calabar High students accused of assaulting physics teacher Sanjaye Shaw from participating at the InterSecondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championship, which starts today.

Don Wehby, GraceKennedy Group CEO, in a widely circulated statement yesterday, said he took the matter seriously and had dialogue with his attorneys as to whether or not they could have barred the students from competing.

“This is the single largest sponsorship for GraceKennedy anywhere in the world, to the tune of over J$100 million, and as such the implications for us are huge. We have taken the matter so seriously that we have consulted with our attorneys, who have advised that GraceKennedy does not have the power to decide which athletes participate in Champs and cannot determine what action the school or ISSA takes with regard to the alleged incident,” said Wehby in the statement.

Wehby, who represented St George's College and won the Class Three 100m hurdles in 1978, said he met with ISSA president Dr Walton Small, vice-president Keith Wellington and chairman of the organising committee, Colleen Montague yesterday and “had a thorough and frank discussion regarding the alleged incident, which, if true, presents a very serious concern for GraceKennedy as title sponsor of the event”.

“Further, having met with ISSA this morning, we have now been made to understand that ISSA is also not in a position to make such a determination. The decision rests squarely with the board of Calabar High School,” said Wehby.

“I always try to look for the opportunity in the crisis. This entire situation represents an opportunity for change, and is a teachable moment for all stakeholders, including all school boards and the Ministry of Education. Our understanding is that there is currently a Code of Regulations under the Education Act, which governs the conduct of students in schools, and which is currently under review. This alleged incident provides an opportunity for the acceleration of this review, so that, in the future, anyone in breach will be held firmly to account.

“We are committed to working with ISSA, with whom we have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship over the years, for the continued success of this world-class event,” the statement concluded.

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