A teacher who was late more than 250 times and absent 71 times over a three-year period is claiming that she was unfairly dismissed from her job.
Charmaine Brooks, who held a temporary post as a mathematics teacher at Charlemont High School in St Catherine, was fired in May for persistent absenteeism and lateness.
But the teacher, who compained to THE STAR on Monday, is alleging that she was unfairly treated by the school. She said her lack of punctuality was unintentional, and that she always communicated with the relevant authorities whenever she was faced with these situations.
“I live in Kingston, and there were times that the roadworks were being carried out on Mandela Highway, so this would cause me to be late by a few minutes, sometimes, but I would always call. I was never absent without letting them know, and the majority of these times was when I was ill, and I provided medical certificates to prove it,” she said.
According to the teacher, some of her students were extremely unruly, and although she complained about their behaviour, the school’s officials did not do anything substantial to address the matter.
Brooks presented THE STAR with several memos that she received from the school, one of which came from the head of the mathematics department. It stated that her absenteeism from October to December 2018 had negatively impacted the mathematics department.
In another memo, the vice-president of academics wrote the principal in December 4, 2018, indicating that with 72 days gone in the school term, she had only been in attendance for 32 days.
“She was late 14 times, reported sick 30 days, and absent for 15 days,” the memo said.
But Brooks maintained that she was being unfairly targeted.
“I have been unfairly treated by my heads of staff through the use of memos dating from February 2017 to March 2019 that were used to judge my punctuality … . There are teachers whose records on being late supersede mine, and yet I am the only teacher who gets dismissed,” she said in a letter addressed to the principal, Garth Gayle.
She said she was also presented with letters from the school board that stated that they were dissatisfied with her performance. Brooks said she is now without a job and to make matters worse, she is still feeling the effects of an injury that she received on the job in September 2018.
“I had asked a class to stay back for a few minutes so I could mark the register, but some of them got disruptive and were adamant that they needed to leave. There was one boy who had a pair of scissors and I told him to hand it to me, but he refused. I then asked another student to call the security for me, but before he came, a student pushed two boys into me as a means of pushing me out of the way and I hit my hand on the door jamb and twisted my ankle,” she said.
Still in pain
“My slipper also burst. I reported the matter to the police and sought medical attention and it was there that I discovered that one of my toes was broken. The boy was never suspended or anything, and to this day, I am still in pain. I can’t even wear heels,” she added.
In a letter addressed to Brooks, school officials stated that although she was informed of a personal hearing on May 2 with the school board, she failed to attend, stating that she was ill.
“I called the school to let them know I was ill and couldn’t attend. I also called a JTA representative to let them know also. I didn’t know I was dismissed, and that the hearing was held without me. I went to school the 3rd of June to sign in and I was told by a staff not to sign in and I should go to the principal’s office. It was then I got a letter that I was dismissed from May 30. This is very unfair. I sustained injuries and nothing was done. I was dismissed during my illness. This is not fair to me. I need justice,” she said.
Attempts to contact the school principal, Gayle, proved futile.