Nation e-Edition

What wrong have I done?

BRADSTON CLARKE showing his monthly pay slip last Thursday for a $7 000-plus salary he has been receiving for years without driving a  stroke. He says nobody seems to be interested in his well-being. (Picture by Morissa Lindsay.)

By YVETTE BEST | Sun, January 27, 2013 - 12:07 AM

“FIRE ME, but don’t leave me out there in the dark like the man with the iron mask. It ain’t right!”

That’s the cry of a man who, by virtue of a letter of appointment and a monthly salary, is gainfully employed, but who has not driven a stroke in his substantive position for almost six years.

Bradston Clarke, deputy principal of St Leonard’s Boys’ School, checked his bank last Thursday, like all public servants do, for his $7 000-plus salary, and it was there. But there was nothing to smile about.

Clarke was interdicted and sent home from school on March 19, 2007 on half-pay leave and is still searching for answers.

“When they sent me home they said it was on an alleged misconduct and I was home as a deputy principal for a whole year not knowing what this misconduct was,” he told the SUNDAY SUN.

According to him, he learnt of the nature of the three charges brought against him when he took the matter to court.

One was reportedly a bomb scare that he had done nothing about. It was also said that he had watched ten boys beat one boy. There was also a fracas at the school which caused more than 40 police officers to go to the institution to deal with it.

A 2011 judgment returned his salary to full and he was back-paid the portion which had been deducted from 2007.

“I am not permitted to work, because the matter has not been resolved . . . . You [are] getting paid and you don’t have to work, not because you’re sicking out but because the people are just ignoring you. So they [the Public Service Commission] have ignored me for the last couple years. It’s as though I don’t exist,” Clarke complained.

Following the 2011 judgment, he got a letter from Personnel Administration informing him, among other things, that the then Deputy Chief Education Officer Laurie King had been asked to continue the investigation into his case and would be contacting him. Up until the time of this interview last week King had not yet done so, Clarke insisted.

“. . . Nobody seems to be interested in my well-being,” Clarke said.

“I’m a citizen of Barbados [and] in a little while I’ll be asked to vote, but I can’t work. I can’t leave here [home] and go to work. However, I get paid in a statutory position.”

He said he was “kicked” off his job after six people came to his office. According to him, they were then Permanent Secretary Athlene Haynes and her deputy, Chief Education Officer Wendy Griffith-Watson, deputy chiefs Idamay Denny and Glenroy Cumberbatch, and the then chairman of the school board. He said he was handed a letter saying he was being interdicted from March 20.

He said he pointed out to them that it was a day early, but later learnt from the Official Gazette that his principal Victor Jackman had officially retired on that same day.

“When I queried around, in preparing my case, I realised that they had to get me out of there by 11:30/12 o’clock on the 19th, which was a day early . . . . Had I spent a day there, I would have been acting principal, because the position of principal was vacant. So they had to get me out because they did not want me in that position at all,” Clarke contended.

He was 52 at the time and is now approaching 59, and given the talk circulating about sending home the embattled Jeff Broomes who was at the centre of the Alexandra School affair, Clarke said the same could be said about him.

“Somebody would look at me and say, I too old now, you could send me home. But you sent me home at 52,” Clarke charged.

He continues to query why he was “put out to pasture” at 52, and the authorities cannot come out and tell the public what he has done wrong.

“Tell me, tell my children, tell my wife what I did wrong so I could defend myself,” he said, adding his representative, the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), had “abandoned” him with all the others.

He said he could not go out and find another job in the Public Service, because he was being paid for a job.

“Shoving money at me doesn’t make me get up on mornings and go and do what I’m qualified and able and anxious to do. I see things happening in the service, I see ways of teaching that are not being done. I see problems that are easily solved, but I can’t go and do them; those are things that are well within my purview. Fire me . . . . Even if you do me like Jeff Broomes, transfer me, do something, but don’t leave it,” he suggested.

Clarke said that for some reason he had been “thrown out and forgotten”.

“Some day before I die, I would like to know what I did that would cause me not to be able to work in this country. You can’t even get a proper accusation,” he charged.  

So how does he spend his days?

Apart from doing some work on the computer so he “won’t go insane”, Clarke takes his three-year-old grandson Caleb to and from school.

He said Caleb, whom he looked after for three months before nursery, has been a “boost” and the “light” of his life.

He said there had been no major adverse effects on his health over the years he has been out of work, and that he had put his life in God’s hands.

“My main thing is my faith in God and seeing the support of my family. Those are the things that have kept me,” he said, as he insisted he had no bitterness over the affair.

When contacted for a response, Minister of Education Ronald Jones said he could not comment, since the Clarke issue was a personnel matter and outside of his domain. Efforts to reach Chief Education Officer Laurie King were unsuccessful

New president of the BUT, Pedro Shepherd, said he believed the union took a step back from the situation when the case went to court. He said they would be willing to give Clarke an ear and reopen the file if he so desired, however.

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Posted by c holder 1 year, 5 months ago
Wow! And the taxpayers who actually work have paid him about half-million dollars to sit at home. But nobody is held accountable for this?

  • 2
Posted by Cheese On 1 year, 5 months ago
Clearly they continued to pay you your Salary so you would keep Quiet & not go to the Nation newspaper!

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Posted by Olutoye WALROND 1 year, 5 months ago
Here we go again. Another case of administrative inertia.

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Posted by Bim Bum 1 year, 5 months ago
Now THAT is the teacher job I want!

$ 7,000 a month while I stan' home for SIX YEARS
"and the money keeps rolling in"...like Evita Peron says!

NICE work if you can get it!!!
-and still he complaining? LOL!

  • 11
Posted by wayne husbands 1 year, 5 months ago
THANKS FOR THE CLARIFICATION OF YOUR SITUATION.The BUT appears to be an entry route into the ministry of education,this can be confirmed by former leaders in the BUT holding all top positions in the ministry.but when it comes to representation of the rank and file, they do not meet the grade.

  • 2
Posted by Linda Smith 1 year, 5 months ago
On one hand, one would say, what is there to complain about, you are making more money than most Bajans and having to do nothing for it. On the other hand, one could say that this man's skills could have led to advancement. He could have been a principal or education officer by now if he was vindicated.

There is a serious problem in Barbados where administrators believe they can do as they please without accountability or consequences. The question is, which administrator was wrong? Mr. Clarke, or the Ministry officials? More often than not there is more in the mortar than the pestle.

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Posted by Carl Harper 1 year, 5 months ago
See how quickly Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, ducked for cover and abdicated responsibility? He's washing his hands clean of the matter and passing the buck to personnel.

All matters within the Ministry he tightly controls and seizes the limelight at every opportunity. Now a matter that doesn't give him such good publicity, he is dithering.

No wonder PM Stuart was upset with him over the handling of the Alexandra School affair.

  • 10
Posted by wayne husbands 1 year, 5 months ago
carlhnarper, Wasn't the origin of this episode in your party's rule? the intent was to prevent advancement of mr. clarke... the BUT and the ministry had their appointments in line... typical action of the party in red

  • 8
Posted by Mr Psychotic 1 year, 5 months ago
I cannot believe what I am seeing. The are so many schools and institutions where he can do volunteer work either during school hours or even after school...whether in the form of a reading club, sports, or his skills in his special teaching area. I don't see what he is complaining about.

  • 6
Posted by Reiah Factua 1 year, 5 months ago
6 years??? And there I was thinking that the Clerk sent on leave was unprecedented in Bim. Only goes to show. Innocent until proven guilty is now complicated by 'investigations', a word used to keep unwanted and otherwise untouchable employees off the job. And only the court can return the half pay, provided the person can afford legal representation, or they are forced to live off the half pay. But what happens to the assassination of the reputation and character of young persons suspended who will have difficulty returning to the workforce or will be reduced below their skill and earning level just to support their families. Not to mention the psychological and physical impact on these lives. Few may retain a peace of mind by finding forgiveness in their hearts and leaving the retribution to the Almighty. May God help us all!!

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Posted by Ronald Jones 1 year, 5 months ago
It is highly curious that Mr. Clarke would now take this opportunity to speak about the issues surrounding him. He knows that the process of interdiction in not done on a mere fancy. In 2006 when he was interdicted the St. Leonards Boys' School was in a state of meltdown and the school had to be put under different leadership and new systems had to put in place. I know that Mr. Clarke took the government to court and the first decision of the court was that Mr Clarke was being too previous. The Public Service Commission was later informed to pay Mr. Clarke his full salary. Mr. Clarke must consider the biblical teaching, when the harlot was brought before Christ for Adultery. Christ Admonition to the accusers was, 'those of you without sin cast the first stone'. Time is a great adjuster of minds.

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