Rev Dr Hazel Ann Gibbs-de Peza, chairman of United Voice of the Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Faith (UVOSSBF), said they are calling upon Archbishop Barbara Burke to drop the charges of misconduct against principal Pamela Hunte of St Barbara’s Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Primary School.
Gibbs-de Peza also said they fear the Ministry of Education might close the school if it was not functioning effectively.
St Barbara’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School was built on land at Maloney donated to the faith by the Basdeo Panday government.
Chairman Gibbs-de Peza was joined on Friday by a battery of Spiritual/Shouter Baptist elders who shared similar sentiments about Hunte’s reinstatement at a press conference at Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Hall on Henry Street, Port of Spain.
“We are asking the charges of misconduct laid against the principal, Pamela Hunte, be dropped and she be reinstated and a newly-constituted board be appointed to run the school,” said Gibbs-de Peza.
“The school is run at the whims and fancies of one person (Burke). It was given to the faith and the faith wants to take charge of the school. Now, the image of the faith and the structure of the school is being destroyed. If it is not run efficiently after a period of time the Ministry will find ways to shut it down.
“The principal is at home, she is not attending school. There are charges. She has not been given a letter of dismissal or a letter of transfer. The charges are for breaking the rules of the board. But what are the rules that the board gave? The Ministry of Education has endorsed Burke’s actions,” she added.
Giving an update on the school’s operations, Gibbs-de Peza said: “It is being run by a skeleton staff and someone who is acting as principal without proper authority. The Archbishop (Burke) said sign the book and act as principal. The Teaching Service Commission has not appointed them. Something needs to be done to correct the situation. They are not allowing her (Hunte) on the compound.”
She also said Burke has not been communicating with them. And to compound the situation, Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) and its president, Devanand Sinanan, have not intervened to correct the situation.
Patriarch Archbishop Stephen Julien accused the relevant authorities of not dealing with the heads of the faith but with one individual (Burke).
“They are disrespecting the heads of the National Congress to deal with all the problems arising,” he said.
But in a telephone interview, Burke said: “It sounding mad. Where are you putting her? School closed. The school does not concern that organisation. They are the National Congress. Are they registered in Parliament? The Congress has not built a school. They got five acres of land like me and they did not put four sticks on it.
“They are also the ones attempting to divide the Baptist faith. I never had a press conference about them. If they don’t like what is going on, then build a school. If they see we are pappyshowing the school, the people will get angry. I demanded Hunte move the ‘Rastaman’ painting off the wall. How could you paint a ‘Rastaman’ and tell the children he is God and pray to him. She is going against my religion. The Concordat kicked in there.”
TTUTA president Devanand Sinanan, in a telephone interview, said: “We are aware and we have had discussions with the Teaching Commission and Education (Ministry). “The only body that could say otherwise is the Teaching Commission. If anyone is preventing her from entering the school, they are breaking the law with impunity. A particular person (Burke) is exercising powers she does not have.
“The allegations are frivolous. The board has not been able to make a case to move Hunte on moral and religious grounds. TTUTA is supportive of de Peza,” he added.