Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Tribunal orders reinstatement of dismissed Westmoreland teacher

Published:Friday | July 31, 2020 | 1:44 PM
The school board and the personnel committee failed to adhere to due process under the education regulations.

Language arts teacher Marcia Ruddock, who was fired by the Board of Management of the Grange Hill High School in Westmoreland, is to be reinstated.

Ruddock was dismissed in November 2017 but the Teachers’ Appeal Tribunal has quashed the board’s decision.

The personnel committee had a hearing in August 2017 into a charge of irregular attendance and recommended that Ruddock’s employment should be terminated.

The school board subsequently met that same month and accepted the recommendation.

“We anticipate the prompt reinstatement of the teacher by the board, along with the payment of all salary and emoluments to which she would have been entitled over the past 32 months,” attorney-at-law André Earle said.

Earle and attorney-at-law Arielle Brown, who represented Ruddock, had argued that the board and the personnel committee did not have regard for due process under the education regulations.

The attorneys argued that the personnel committee failed to report in writing to the board upon completion of the hearing.

They also argued that only an oral report, as opposed to a written report as stipulated by the regulations, was given to the board.

The attorneys further argued that the principal, who was the complainant, voted at the board meeting where the decision was made to fire Ruddock and that rendered the decision null and void.

In response, the tribunal said it found that without the written report, the board was left at a disadvantage as to the basis which informed the personnel committee’s decision to make its recommendation.

It found that the full complement of the personnel committee was not present at the hearing and “all things combined cast an ominous shadow over the question of procedural fairness.”

The tribunal further found that the participation of the principal in the deliberations of the board made the decision to terminate Ruddock’s services null and void.

However, the tribunal commented that although it had made its finding, Ruddock had “to appreciate that her poor behaviour and conduct exhibited for years of her tenure as well as her contemptuous treatment of the hearing is beyond peradventure unprofessional and unacceptable.”

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us @onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.