BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – The Team Unity Government has been told to deal with the conflict of interest issue at the Basseterre High School (BHS) where the Principal, Ron Collins, continues to serve as President of the St. Kitts Teachers Union.
Kittitian Willa Franks-Liburd, a former United Nations expert on economics told Freedom FM’s “Issues” programme Monday that it was time that the Team Unity Government deals with what she termed the basic core principles at the heart of the BHS matter.
“I find it very strange that you have a principal of a school who is also on the executive and the President of the Teachers Association. That is a conflict of interest because on the one hand, he is there to represent the employer which is the Government with respect to interfacing with his Staff and at the same time you have him as the union President, advocating directly for all teachers who are members of the Union. It’s a very strange roll and the Government needs to change that,” said Franks-Liburd, adding:
“Any principal of a school should not be on the executive of a Union. He or she could be a member of a Union, but to be on the Executive body of a teacher’s union, you have problems and I think therein lies some of the problems.”
Pointing out that the relocation of the BHS “came with a lot of baggage with the change in government which while in opposition, the BHS issue was politicised, the Principal Ron Collins as a part of that group and is now in conflict with his senior staff.
“He should have been in a position to step back and if there is a problem with a staff, here is where a mediator comes in, but now he is part of the problem. I don’t think a retreat will resolve the situation,” Willa Franks-Liburd said.
With the appointment of Collins as principal, chairperson of the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party and Parliamentary Representative for Central Basseterre Hon Marcella Liburd said teachers need to come together and remove Ron Collins as president of the Teachers Union.
“Your interests have been seriously compromised by his conflict of interest. How can he be the principal of the Basseterre High School? Every principal is part of the Ministry of Education. He is now firmly in the Ministry of Education as principal and still wants to be president of the Teachers Union,” said Ms Liburd.
“That is a grave conflict and the interests of the teachers would be seriously compromised,” said the Central Basseterre parliamentarian over a year ago.