A full investigation into the vetting and hiring process of the North Andros High School principal who was convicted for manslaughter more than 30-years ago found that he was forthcoming about his record during the entire process, Education
Minister Jerome Fitzgerald revealed Tuesday.
Stephen Sands served eight years in prison and later went on to gain employment in the public school system.
He was hired back in 1996 and has held various posts within the public schools on several islands across the country.
“Mr. Sands was completely honest and transparent on his application form,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “In fact, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) prepared a complete report detailing all of the events right up to when he was released and that is on the file so at all times the commission was fully aware of the details of his past,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
“He has an exemplary record within the school system. On every island that he was posted on, even now on Andros, with people agitating for his movement, there are notes on file from residents asking for him to remain in the various islands he was in. And even leading persons within the North Andros community have written directly to me stating the fact that he has excellent rapport with the students, particularly the males, and so that’s the issue with his record.”
Despite all of the commendations about Mr. Sands, the education minister acknowledged that media coverage of the principal’s background made it nearly impossible that he would be able to retain his administrative role within the public school system and he said steps are now being taken to relocate him into the Ministry of Education.
“I am satisfied that the majority of the residents in North Andros are supportive of him, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that there is an element that does not support him being the principal there and so we have decided that moving forward he will remain as principal for the remainder of his term, but during the summer we will come to an agreement for reassignment for him somewhere in the ministry,” the minister said.
“The skill set that he has he will continue to be able to use them to serve the young people of this country. At no point had we ever had any concern about him when it comes to his interaction with students, teachers or parents and while this is an unfortunate turn of events I think we have agreed that this is in the best interests of the students.”