Now, allow JC to settle down and educate its studentsWednesday, November 24, 2021
We will start with the fact that Mr Ruel Reid, who stepped down as Jamaica College (JC) principal last Saturday, has not been found guilty of any offence that would warrant his departure from that post.
Mr Reid, though, is before the court on charges of breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act, conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in a public office at common law, and breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act in relation to the education ministry and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU). So too are CMU President Fritz Pinnock, Mr Reid's wife and daughter, as well as Jamaica Labour Party Councillor Ms Kim Brown.
They all are entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. The country must, therefore, await the outcome of their trials before arriving at any conclusion about their integrity.
Mr Reid, we suspect, may feel that he has been targeted, but surely he should understand that the spotlight of public opinion will shine brightest on him because of the office he held just before his arrest in October 2019. Mr Reid, after all, was a senator and minister of education, and as such cannot escape intense scrutiny as the bar of accountability is set higher for public servants in those positions.
We are well aware that Jamaica College's board of management would have found it difficult to dismiss Mr Reid as principal, given that he had not breached any of the provisions in the education regulations. Therefore, hammering out an agreement that negates him returning to the high school at the end of his special leave of absence was the right thing to do.
The board, though, has been less than efficient in its handling of this matter. So too the Ministry of Education. Both entities should have acted much earlier, given that we all know that the wheels of justice spin very slowly in this country. Mr Reid, therefore, will not likely have his day in court for some time yet.
This agreement, therefore, will spare Jamaica College, its staff, students, past students and parents further pain. Indeed, the joint statement from Mr Reid and the JC board announcing that he was demitting office spoke to that reality: “It is our view that this agreement is in the best interest of the parties and, more importantly, it will allow Jamaica College to focus exclusively on its mandate,” the joint statement sent to the media on Saturday stated.
Schools, like any other entity, will experience instances of discord. In some instances, as we are seeing with the matter at Merl Grove High, they involve differences between administrators. Human beings, after all, are not perfect. However, it is absolutely important when these disputes arise that they are not allowed to fester, because ultimately the students are the ones most affected.
Additionally, if school administrators, or teachers, are tainted by any allegation of wrongdoing they will undoubtedly lose the moral authority to instruct students and mould them into responsible citizens.
Now that it appears there is general agreement that the interest of the students of JC is paramount, we hope that the school will be allowed to return to normal, providing students with and education, and that the issue of leadership will be settled.