With more than 50,000 students preparing to head back to school next Monday, Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald on Tuesday warned that any teacher who skips classes because of disagreements with their principals would face serious disciplinary action.
Last week, Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson said that she would be pull 130 public school teachers from a school in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama if their principals are not removed.
But yesterday, before heading into his weekly Cabinet meeting, Mr. Fitzgerald told reporters that he has met with the teachers of both schools and has the majority of their support.
He said in addition to that, Mrs. Wilson and her union will not get their wish of having the two principals removed as they will be returning to the schools as well.
“I expect that all teachers will report to work on Monday morning,” he said. “No industrial dispute has been filed as far as I’m concerned and any teachers that do not report will understand that they are withholding their services. They know what course of action I will take after that.”
“I have spoken with the principals and addressed those issues that were raised by the president of the teachers’ union. So I expect to have a smooth transition for the new school year.”
The Bahama Journal has learned that the school in New Providence being referenced is the Anatol Rodgers High School. Since the beginning of the year many disgruntled parents have requested that principal’s removal.
Mr. Fitzgerald said he was disappointed to hear the BUT president speaking of the matter openly as they had already discussed the matter privately and he had already begun trying to resolve the matter.
“She pre-empted the issue, which I thought was unfortunate,” he said.
“But, particularly in light of the fact that there is no industrial action and it doesn’t raise an industrial matter, these are decisions that we consult with the union on. But at the end of the day we are the final decision makers with regard to it. Moving forward, we have addressed her concerns. I was just a bit disappointed that she would discuss it in the way she did.”
Another issue the BUT president raised was the condition of some of the schools.
But Mr. Fitzgerald said all schools in need of repairs will be fixed before the school bells ring on Monday.