New document shows new Education Commissioner had applied for ‘more than one job’
Education Commissioner Edmond Heatley has come under fresh fire after claiming in a job application that he had increased public school approval ratings in Bermuda by a massive 70 percent in just four months.
And Independent MP Terry Lister has renewed calls for Dr Heatley to be fired, claiming that “this conduct is not appropriate for the person who is serving as Commissioner of Education”.
Mr Lister also questioned claims by Dr Heatley that he had only applied for one post, noting that, according to documents “Dr Heatley had his name submitted for more than one job”.
Dr Heatley was appointed Education Commissioner by the Government in September 2013, but his commitment to the job was called into question when it was revealed that he had applied for a post in his native US in December — just for months after moving to Bermuda.
Details of his application for the job of schools superintendent with the Orleans Parish School Board have now been made available through the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.
In his application, submitted online through a recruitment agency, Dr Heatley claims that, in his current role, he “increased public education approval rates from 23 percent to 93 percent”.
And according to the recruitment firm form, Dr Heatley applied for another position, although details of that post have been scored out.
In a statement two weeks ago, Dr Heatley explained that he had been “invited” to apply for the job in New Orleans and did so because of “unsettling changes” in the Ministry of Education — the Ministry changed both its Permanent Secretary and Minister in December.
He added that, since those changes were introduced he had “built a very positive working relationship with the current PS and Minister”.
But Mr Lister brushed off the explanation at the time, claiming it was time for Mr Heatley to “get cracking”.
And last night he challenged Education Minister Grant Gibbons to reveal the survey that had shown a surge in approval ratings for the public school system.
I am very disappointed to learn that Dr Heatley, only a few months on the job, saw fit to follow through with the interview for the job that “his friend” had put his name forward for,” Mr Lister said.
“I am even more disappointed to learn that Dr Heatley had his name submitted for more than one job although he told the country that he had allowed his name to go forward for one post only.
“I was surprised to learn that Dr Heatley, in his application document, stated that he had restored public confidence in education, raising the level from the 23 percent he found when he arrived to a high of 93 percent at the time of the survey.
“I invite Minister Gibbons to make this survey public so that we can all appreciate this tremendous increase in confidence in the system.
“The education of our children is critical to the future success of our country.
“As we recover from the very difficult situation that we are in, we will need a group of young people who are educated and committed to their career choices.
“We need the Ministry of Education to lead this mission. For success to occur we need trust in our educational leaders to be a given.
“Sadly, this episode has made this trust issue one that leaves the country wondering what will come next.
“Honesty in speaking to the public about education began with Minister Gerald Simons, who started a programme of educational reform in 1987. Twenty seven years have gone by.
“Many Ministers, including myself, have given 100 percent effort to restore trust and build success.
“What is to come next? Either Dr Heatley will be offered one of the two jobs that he has applied for and leave our shores or the Minister will finally accept that this conduct is not appropriate for the person who is serving as Commissioner of Education and end his contract.
“If either of these outcomes occurs the search for a replacement begins once more. My recommendation is that the selection committee provide all worthy Bermudian applicants a fair interview process.
“Should a Bermudian be selected then let's get behind that person and give him or her every chance at moving the system forward.
“If the committee believes that none of the Bermudians is up to the task, then a candidate from the UK should be selected.
“We have moved our system away from a North American system and back in line with the British system and, to my thinking, if we are having someone from overseas the most logical place the person should come from is the UK.
“Additionally, I further recommend that Government enters into talks with the UK government so that the top two Bermudians from the interview process can be offered places in the UK Educational system to prepare them to be able to compete for the Commissioner's post when vacated.
“I would suggest that the person coming in be given a three-year contract with the two going out being given two year contracts.
“At the end of the two years in the UK the two Bermudians would return to Bermuda and show why they should be considered as worthy to take over the top post.
“In the midst of this the Ministry is still being run by a part time Minister and Permanent Secretary.
“I am encouraging the Premier to act as soon as possible to appoint an Education Minister along with a PS. Education is far too important to have part-timers leading the Ministry.”