JC distances itself from convicted former groundsman
THE Jamaica College Board of Management, in the wake of media reports on the conviction and pending sentencing of former school groundsman Courtney Seymour on sex assault charges, has distanced itself from the former employee while insisting that the school has a “zero-tolerance policy for this type of abhorrent behaviour”.
Seymour is to be sentenced by Half-Way-Tree Parish Court on February 16 this year, after pleading guilty to a charge of indecent assault which occurred sometime in May 2021 while the child, whose mother is a member of staff, was on the campus. He was arrested last October while working at the funeral service of a prominent Jamaica College alum on the grounds of the all-boys’ high school, despite his “swift resignation” in 2021 following the incident.
Jamaica College Chairman Lance Hylton, in a statement to the media on Thursday which he said was issued “in the interest of transparency, correction of inaccurate reports”, said the school’s principal at the time took “immediate action, advised the mother to report the matter to the police, and provided transportation for mother and child” when told of the incident. Hylton said a “swift resignation” was procured from Seymour after a “strong discussion” with the principal.
In addressing the issue of how Seymour happened to be on the school grounds after that “swift resignation”, Hylton said “the school at no time rehired the groundsman as a member of staff but, over two years after the incident, he was engaged by the maintenance department on some weekends as a contracted casual labourer, to help with clean-up before and after events”.
According to the board chairman, Jamaica College “regretted the fact of the groundsman being engaged” and is implementing more robust measures, to be communicated to all staff, to prevent the presence on campus of persons considered unsuitable.
“We will also review the process of vetting employees to determine whether this area needs strengthening,” he said.
The school, while stating that “any effort that results in justice being done is welcomed”, in the meantime said it is “not aware of any precedent or requirement for a report to have been made to the Ministry of Education in these circumstances as the employee resigned and no student [of Jamaica College] was involved”. The child in question attends a high school in St Andrew.
Jamaica College, in the meantime, said it will be reviewing the reporting policy of matters and establishing a clear protocol in consultation with the education ministry.
A well-placed source had told the Jamaica Observer that the ministry was alerted about the incident from another source. It said school officials, when contacted by the ministry, indicated that a report was given to the police on the day of the incident and that it was being investigated.