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Evans queries appraisal marks before exit

Freddie Evans’s appraisal marks fell in his final review. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The departure of Freddie Evans from the post of education commissioner took a new twist yesterday.

A series of performance appraisals on Dr Evans show a sharp drop in his evaluations in the month before his exit was announced.

Mark Diel, of law firm Marshall Diel & Myers, is representing Dr Evans in legal action against the Ministry of Education and the Governor, John Rankin.

The lawyer said the about-face on his client’s final assessment “cries out for explanation” because Dr Evans’s ratings on a 20-point evaluation were reduced on every point in his third and final review.

White-out also appears to have been applied to the ratings on Dr Evans’ final report.

Mr Diel said yesterday that his client had received no explanation from the Public Service Commission, the ministry, or Government House.

The news came after Dr Evans was said to be “relieved of his duties” at the start of the week by the Ministry of Education.

Dr Evans, whose probation as Commissioner of Education expired on Saturday, was declared out of the job on Monday in an e-mail to principals and teachers from Permanent Secretary for Education Valerie Robinson-James.

Dr Evans said that only the Governor has the power to end his tenure as commissioner.

The Royal Gazette was told yesterday, in response to questions sent earlier in the week, that Government House “has no comment at this time”.

While the first two assessments both noted that Dr Evans sometimes exceeded basic requirements, the third calls for an improvement in performance, with the permanent secretary recommending that Dr Evans’s post be terminated.

That final negative review came only two days after Dr Evans had been sent by the ministry on a two-day course, which he passed.

According to the contractual terms of Dr Evans’s probation period, dismissal from the post lies with the Governor, upon the recommendation of the Public Service Commission — and only during the probation period.

Dr Evans has maintained that no such dismissal was ever communicated.

Earlier performance appraisals seen by this newspaper, from 2011 to 2012, 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016, consistently rank Dr Evans as performing “substantially above requirements”.

The final appraisal, covering his tenure as assistant director/acting commissioner, notes that the candidate had “the potential to lead the Public School System”.

Last night IT educator Darren Burchall, who recalled Dr Evans from his student days, questioned the rationale for the change, saying it left “too many questions” and calling it “a farce”.

“Dr Evans did the job for quite some time in an acting capacity and came to the table with ideas that the ministry needed and accepted,” Mr Burchall said.

“He has been in the game a long time, and if anybody knows the system, he is in a good position. We keep crying out that we want a Bermudian to do this job. Why, after six months, did it change?”

Mr Burchall queried whether an education commissioner was even necessary.

“Why not let teachers and former teachers run education, and not let it become a political football?” he said.

“I believe that’s the only way it is going to get solved. The way it’s getting done now is not right — the system is broken and it is not getting fixed.”

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