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EVERYDAY LAW: Role of boards and principals

Cecil McCarthy

EVERYDAY LAW: Role of boards and principals

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There is a fair degree of tension between some boards of management and principals with respect to the administration of public secondary schools in Barbados.
One of the sources of conflict in my view is a lack of awareness of the legal rules that govern the role, function, and authority of the board and of the principal.
A precise knowledge of the respective roles of the board and principal cannot be discerned from taking up a book on school administration since our scheme is significantly different from those in the traditional countries from which we derive our laws.
For example, in many countries the boards of management, boards of governors or boards of directors, by whatever name called, employ the professional teaching staff and have wide powers over their discipline.
In Barbados, the functions and the nature and scope of the authority of the board of management of public secondary schools are to be found mainly in the Education Act and the Education Regulations 1982.  
All board members and principals should familiarize themselves with these two documents.
In Barbados, boards of management only employ the non-teaching staff of the school.
The power to employ non-teaching staff is conferred by Section 17(c) of the Education Act Cap. 41 and Section 4 of the Education Regulations 1982, respectively.  
Section 17(c) reads:  
The board of Management “may, subject to this act,
(i) employ persons of such categories in such numbers and on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed and
(ii) dismiss and otherwise exercise disciplinary control over those persons”.
Section 4 of the Regulations provides as follows:
A board may, pursuant to section 17(c), employ the following
(a) a person to be secretary and treasurer
(b) administrative and clerical staff
(c) a gardener, guardsman and messenger; and
(d) such other persons as are necessary for carrying out the functions of the board.
Since the board employs the non-teaching staff and is entrusted with disciplinary powers over them by the Education Regulations, I am told that some of their staff members challenge the authority of the principals to issue directions to them or otherwise exercise control over their functions or conduct while at work.
However, section 18(p) of the Education Regulations specifically mandates the principal to “supervise the non-teaching staff of the school”.
The principal, therefore, has responsibility for the supervision of both teaching and non-teaching staff of the school.
Another area of responsibility that is given to the board relates to the keeping of certain records.  
By Section 6 of the regulations, the board must require the principal to keep the following records:
(a) an admissions register and health record of pupils;
(b) an attendance register for each form of each school in which daily attendance is to be recorded;
(c) a daily attendance register for teachers;
(d) a diary or log book;
(e) cumulative records of the pupils of each school;
(f) a copy of the school’s timetable;
(g) a book in which must be recorded breaches of discipline by pupils and any punishment or other action taken in respect of any such breach;
(h) a copy of the act and all regulations made under the act;
(i) an inventory of equipment, furniture, apparatus, books and other materials; and
(j) any other records the minister requires.”