PLP silent on whether MP will face disciplinary action
The Progressive Labour Party has remained silent about whether one of its MPs will be disciplined for his vocal opposition to the closure of West End Primary School - as is the case with one of the party’s veteran members.
Jamahl Simmons, MP for Sandys South, wrote a letter which his mother Cecille Snaith-Simmons read out on Sunday at a rally held against the closure of the school, in which he said he was “deeply saddened by the decision to close this iconic Sandys, Black institute of learning”.
Mr Simmons was unable to attend the rally himself because of quarantine rules.
Ellen-Kate Horton, a veteran PLP member and former Permanent Secretary of Education, was told last month that she is to face a disciplinary hearing by the party after criticising what was then still a proposal as part of wide-ranging education reforms.
The PLP refused to comment on whether Mr Simmons or any other PLP member, was, or would be, subject to disciplinary action.
A party spokesman said: “We once again welcome all Bermudians concerned with the PLP’s internal policies to read our party constitution on our website. There, you will note our commitment to respecting the privacy of our members, our meetings and all internal processes.”
Mr Simmons letter added: “As a PLP MP my loyalty is to my party ... but I have a deeper loyalty to my conscious, to the people who elected me and to the school that gave so much to me and to so many of us.
“Together we can continue to appeal to our government to change this decision. Together we can take a stand for our history, our culture and our community and say as one voice, not here, not today, not ever. West End Primary forever.”
Phil Perinchief, a former PLP Attorney-General, also spoke out about the plan during Sunday’s rally telling The Royal Gazette that Mr Rabain was “playing politics with the educational destiny of this community”.
Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, and Ianthia Simmons-Wade, PLP MP for Warwick North East, were in attendance at the rally.
The PLP spokesman defended the education reforms which will see eight primary schools closed, saying: “We value the opinions of all our members, but one thing we can agree on is that our public education system needs reform. We can do better by our children. Our students deserve the highest quality education delivered at the highest standard.
“Our signature schools initiative and Learning First curriculum will give our students greater opportunities and more choices to get the sort of education they need to succeed. Our proposed Parish Primary School plan will allow us to focus our resources on fewer facilities which will allow us to rebuild new 21st century schools on the best sites per parish.
“Our Education Authority will ensure that our teachers teach to the highest standards. Our new model and curriculum will give our students the best opportunities to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.”
“Bermudians have long demanded education reform to prepare our students for the future. In our 2017 election platform we promised this, and we are committed to delivering this promise.”
In June, Ms Horton sought legal advice calling the grounds for the hearing “frivolous and vexatious”.
A PLP spokesman said at the time: “We all value our members' privacy and find it fundamentally unfair that any member would be used publicly as a political football ...
“The PLP doesn’t comment on internal matters and whoever leaked this story owes our party member an apology."
Founded in 1869, West End Primary School admitted Black and Portuguese students when Sandys Grammar School, now Somerset Primary, excluded them.
Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, announced last Thursday that the closure is to go ahead along with that of seven other primary schools.
Mr Simmons declined to comment.