‘No bias in education appointment’
Personal prejudice played no part in the choice for Commissioner of Education, a lawyer for the Board of Education told Supreme Court yesterday.
Delroy Duncan said: “There was no possibility that this process was affected by bias.”
Mr Duncan was speaking on the first day of a civil case launched against the Public Service Commission and the BoE by Gina Tucker, a former primary school principal who has also worked in several other senior roles in education.
Dr Tucker claimed in her affidavit that she had “not been fairly treated or properly considered” for the job, which was given to Kalmar Richards, the former principal of CedarBridge Academy, last September.
She said that her relationship with Valerie Robinson-James, the permanent secretary at the education ministry, had soured after a disagreement over a decision to offer the Commissioner of Education post to Paul Wagstaff, a British education expert, in 2016.
Dr Tucker added: “It is my view that the permanent secretary has orchestrated this entire matter.”
Mr Duncan said that there no evidence that the clash between the two had influenced the decision to hire Ms Richards.
He added: “It's an assertion that has no basis whatsoever.”
Mr Duncan highlighted scores awarded to Ms Richards and Dr Tucker by a five-menber panel when the two candidates were interviewed for the job last July.
He said: “On everybody's score ... Kalmar Richards outperforms Dr Gina Tucker. Not by a small margin.”
Mr Duncan added that even if Ms Robinson-James's scores were taken out, Ms Richards “still far and away surpasses the score that Dr Tucker achieved”.
Mark Diel, for Dr Tucker, said that there was “clearly bad blood” between his client and Ms Robinson-James.
He added: “We contend that the permanent secretary set out, and in fact was successful, in orchestrating the appointment of her chosen candidate for the role.”
Mr Diel said that it was not necessary for his client's case to focus on unfair treatment.
He explained: “The real problem here is that, whatever the motivation, the process was not followed in any manner of speaking.”
Mr Diel added that Ms Richards did not meet the minimum academic qualifications for the job.
Richard Horseman, for the PSC, said that the commission had forwarded their recommendation for Commissioner of Education based on information provided by the BoE.
He added: “Their recommendation cannot be faulted.”
Mr Horseman said that if Dr Tucker had a problem with Ms Robinson-James sitting on the panel that interviewed her, she should have mentioned it at the time.
Dr Tucker wants the appointment of Ms Richards quashed and an order made for the application process to be held “fairly and in accordance with the Education Act 1996 and the Public Service Commission Regulations 2001”, as well as costs.
The hearing, which was adjourned to a later date, continues.
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