Merl Grove disciplinary hearing adjourned yet againWednesday, October 13, 2021
The hearing into the suspension of Merl Grove High School (MGHS) Principal Dr Marjorie Fullerton was adjourned after just over an hour yesterday to allow the MGHS Personnel Committee to review and respond to documents submitted by Fullerton's attorney.
Contacted last night, Dr Delroy Beckford, who is representing the principal, said the adjournment was necessary for the MGHS disciplinary committee to consider certain procedural issues that his side had raised, including that the panel had not been properly constituted.
Representative for the Personnel Committee, Garth McBean, QC, confirmed the adjournment but said Fullerton's attorney had submitted certain documents only minutes before the start of yesterday's hearing and they needed time to review them in order to respond adequately.
The hearing will resume on October 29, 2021 when witnesses expected to be called include chairman of the school board David Hall, who has been accused by past students of taking sides against Fullerton in a long-running dispute with lower school Vice-Principal Loretta Ricketts.
On the eve of the opening of school for the new academic year, Fullerton, returning from her summer break, overturned plans implemented by Ricketts, saying she had already put plans for the reopening in place and had not been consulted on the new arrangements with which she would be stuck with for a full year.
But the board, at an emergency meeting, suspended Fullerton, saying her actions had “negatively impacted the school and caused unrest among the staff”. They had set September 21 for a disciplinary hearing which was put off till yesterday, giving the board time to prepare documents requested by Fullerton's attorney.
In the meantime, the MGHS Past Students' Associations Joint Committee of Jamaica, Canada, and the United States has carried out its threat not to attend today's inaugural commemoration of National Alumni Day, meant to virtually bring together hundreds of thousands of past students of Jamaican high schools across the world.
Canada-based president of the joint committee, Simone Thomas, said last night her organisation could not, in good faith, participate in a celebratory event while the Merl Grove principal was “being persecuted”.
Said Thomas: “While I commend the governor general for declaring National Alumni Day in recognition of the past students' associations' valuable contribution to education in Jamaica, I'm mindful that an educator, a mother who has made tremendous sacrifice, has been torn from her job, her work, in a manner that is malicious, where her character and integrity are being maligned, and some people in authority who should take a stand for her have not done so. That's why I choose to withhold my participation in tomorrow's (today) event.”
The MGHS Past Students' Associations Joint Committee is fiercely opposed to Fullerton being taken before a disciplinary hearing and her September 10 suspension by the David Hall-led school board.
— Desmond Allen