Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy employee mulls legal challenge – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy employee mulls legal challenge

A legal challenge against the appointment of a principal at a special school could be launched,

The Royal Gazette understands.

A staff member at Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy, which has about 25 students with multiple physical and cognitive challenges, is opposing an apparent Ministry of Education decision to give the $109,000-a-year job to Dena Lister.

The employee has engaged a lawyer at Mello Jones & Martin to pursue the matter, which could ultimately lead to a judicial review of the appointment in the Supreme Court.

A source told this newspaper that though no public announcement has been made about Dr Lister getting the job, staff members at the school have been told the post is hers.

Dr Lister has been acting principal since September 2008. The last permanent principal, Bonnie McGlynn, left the publicly-funded school in the summer of that year.

The Academy's parent teacher association said last month it wasn't clear if Dr Lister was permanent or acting principal and that any clarity would be helpful.

It is understood the employee challenging the appointment claims it is an unlawful one, on the alleged grounds that Dr Lister does not have the necessary qualifications.

The most recent public advert for the position found by

The Royal Gazette was posted on the Ministry of Education's website in spring 2008. It invited applications from qualified teachers and stated candidates must possess a “master's degree in education with specialisation in severe multiple challenges or the equivalent” and ten years' teaching experience.

The employee, at what will become Bermuda's only special school when The Educational Centre closes this summer, claims Dr Lister does not have an MA in special education or the equivalent and isn't qualified to lead a school for children with severe and profound disabilities.

The staff member has instructed their lawyer that Dr Lister has a 12-month bachelor of education degree in special education, which involved taking eight bachelor-level courses; an MA in humanities; and a doctorate in instructional leadership.

The employee, who has filed two personal grievances against Dr Lister, also insists the acting principal, a former deputy principal at Sandys Secondary Middle School, has never taught children with severe medical disabilities.

The complainant says the principal's post was not advertised in local media, as required by the Ministry of Education's manual on principals.

Dr Lister has not responded to telephone and e-mail approaches by this newspaper to discuss the issue.

The source claimed that at a October 2010 meeting attended by Dr Lister and the employee, as well as union officials, the acting principal said she had a bachelor's degree in special education gained from Acadia University in Canada in 1983; a master's in human development; and a doctorate in instructional leadership.

Education permanent secretary Warren Jones said yesterday: “We have no comment to make on this.”

Juliana Snelling, the employee's lawyer, would not comment on the case and it was not possible to reach anyone at Bermuda Union of Teachers.

l Useful websites: http://schools.moed.bm, http://bermudaunionofteachers.org.

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Published March 02, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 02, 2011 at 9:11 am)

Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy employee mulls legal challenge

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