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MP calls for Education Commissioner to go

Independent MP Terry Lister is calling on Government to sack its Commissioner of Education for failing to show a commitment to the Island's children.

Mr Lister, a former Education Minister under the Progressive Labour Party, issued the call in the House of Assembly on Friday after media reports claimed that Edmond Heatley had been shortlisted for a job in his native US — just six months after taking up his post in Bermuda.

Speaking during the Motion to Adjourn, Mr Lister said he was “shocked” by the news that Dr Heatley was looking for a new position.

And he urged Education Minister Grant Gibbons to “get rid” of the senior education administrator immediately.

“When you get shortlisted, you have to apply well ahead,” Mr Lister said in a speech that raised a number of his concerns within the Education Ministry. “You have got to have applied at least three months ago before you can be shortlisted.

“Dr Heatley took up his job in Bermuda on September 11, so he applied for this new post on December 11, November 11, October 11 or September 11?

“I've got a little advice for you Minister. Tell him get cracking. Tell him get cracking. We want a commitment to our children, and if he is not prepared to do it, get cracking. And he's already shown us he does not have it. Get rid of him now.”

Mr Lister also urged Government to appoint a Minister who could focus solely on Education, claiming it was unfair to expect Dr Gibbons — who also holds the Economic Development portfolio — to be effective at both jobs.

“To now have a commissioner who, almost the day he arrived applied for a job back in the States? Stop it,” Mr Lister said.

“Our schools are challenged, our children are challenged, we know what they're going through and we need to give them the best.”

Shortly before taking up his post here, Dr Heatley said he saw his top priority in his new role as building “open communication and transparency”.

“We must take an active role in regaining the confidence of the community,” he said, also noting the increased say of parents in Bermuda's educational reforms.

Responding to Mr Lister's concerns, Dr Gibbons said he understood that Dr Heatley was asked by a headhunting colleague to “put his name out there” when he went back to the US on vacation last December.

“I have the understanding that he is very committed to Bermuda and is a very active commissioner, he's been to the schools. Obviously he will have to speak himself but I hope he is prepared to continue,” Dr Gibbons said.

Edmond Heatley, Bermuda's Education Commissioner

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Published March 17, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 17, 2014 at 1:28 am)

MP calls for Education Commissioner to go

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