Bureaucrats commit about-turn on Evans job

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  • Freddie Evans (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Freddie Evans (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Civil Service bureaucrats have made an about-turn over the “firing” of the island’s Commissioner of Education.

Now Freddie Evans, who was told on Monday he was dumped from the job, could be in for a payout in damages from the Government.

A letter from the Public Service Commission to Dr Evans’s lawyer, Mark Diel, and Ministry of Education permanent secretary Valerie Robinson-James said “an administrative error” in correspondence to Dr Evans meant he had not been fired

after all.

But the letter, signed by PSC secretary Carlita O’Brien, added “nor has he been confirmed in his post”.

It said: “The parties should govern themselves accordingly.”

Dr Evans said last night: “As surprising as it is and as disappointing as it is, I can’t comment.

“I don’t know what’s going on. Because it’s so extremely weird, I will leave comments to my lawyer.”

The shock move from the PSC came after a letter to media this week appeared to confirm that Dr Evans had been removed as commissioner.

That followed an e-mail with the same message from Ms Robinson-James to school principals and teachers.

The announcement came less than seven months after Dr Evans was appointed to the top job.

The PSC letter backtracking on the sacking also invited Dr Evans and his legal team, as well as ministry officials, to a meeting next Monday to “discuss the recommendation of the commission”.

Mr Diel fired back at the education ministry and Ms Robinson-James in a letter yesterday and pointed out that it was clear that Dr Evans could be fired only during his probation period, which ended last Saturday — before he was told he was out of a job.

He repeated that only the Governor, John Rankin, could fire Dr Evans — not bureaucrats — and the Governor could do so only after “a properly and fairly arrived at” recommendation from the PSC inside the probation period.

Mr Diel added: “We call upon the ministry to confirm by return that it will cause a retraction of its statements made on Monday, October 2, to be sent to the same individuals that it so rashly contacted earlier in the week.”

He warned: “You will, of course, note that it cannot now be in issue that your statements were wrong and defamatory — the only issue will be the amount of damages our client is to recover.”

In a separate letter to the PSC yesterday, Mr Diel said: “We note your comment that ‘the parties should govern themselves accordingly’.

“Again, we can only assume this ‘directive’ has come from the Governor as our client’s employer, but again respectfully, we have no idea what this means.”

He also asked if Dr Evans should show up for work today — despite the education ministry’s statement to teaching professionals and the media that he had been removed.

Mr Diel said last night: “I query what the ‘administrative error’ is because they don’t tell us what it is.

“There is so much wrong with the letter — they say he hadn’t been terminated — that’s not their job, that’s the Governor’s job.

“Their job is to make recommendations to the Governor whether the probationary period should be extended, whether he should be confirmed in his position or terminated. The Governor acts on their recommendations.”

Mr Diel added that it was still not clear if the PSC had been in touch with the Governor before the body said Dr Evans had been fired.

He said: “It’s quite remarkable that the ministry thinks it’s OK at the last minute to send out a notice to everybody to say he has been terminated and it’s taken five days to confirm he hasn’t been.

“I can only assume there has been some horrendous communications breakdown somewhere along the line in all of this.”

The Ministry of Education was yesterday asked what the “administrative error” was — and if any bureaucrats would be disciplined or fired for the major confusion surrounding Dr Evans’s job.

The ministry did not respond.

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