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'Pay me, or I'll sue'

Sacked educator says Gov’t obligated to compensate him for full contract

Thursday, January 31, 2013    

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EMBATTLED educator Dr Doeford Shirley says he definitely will sue the education ministry if it refuses to pay him up to the end of his contract after he was cashiered last week.

Shirley, who has had a stormy relationship with the ministry since the change of Government in December 2011, was handed a letter on January 25 notifying him that his contract has been terminated effective January 31.

"In the event that the ministry refuses to fully compensate me for the 21 months remaining in the contract, I will, without doubt, seek litigation in its fullest form, whether or not I choose to remain in Jamaica and offer leadership training to the private sector or return home," Shirley told the Jamaica Observer in an e-mail response to our query.

Shirley, a former education administrator in Atlanta, USA, was contracted by the previous Jamaica Labour Party Government to head the National College of Education and Leadership (NCEL), which was established to train prospective principals and vice-principals for leadership positions.

However, over the past year he complained to the media that he was not given the necessary resources and support to carry out his mandate.

He has also angered education ministry officials by ignoring their attempts to muzzle him, and has stated that he will not resign from his position.

Earlier this month, it appeared that there was a thawing in the relations between Dr Shirley and the ministry as he and the permanent secretary, Elaine Foster-Allen, reported that they had an amicable meeting.

"I met with the permanent secretary and had a very productive and positive meeting with her. She understands that a resolution needs to be made, and that I am very anxious to have that resolution," Shirley told the Observer.

"What we really talked about is how do we get the situation that preceded her resolved," he explained. "The meeting was very pleasant and there was no animosity in the air. She understands my willingness and eagerness to get on with the job I was contracted to do, and that I am waiting for a decision one way or the other as to how we go forward."

At the time, Foster-Allen declined to comment on the specifics of the talks, offering only that she and Shirley had a "very amicable and good meeting".

However, last Friday Shirley was handed the termination letter which, he said, does not indicate that he will be paid.

He said that when he sought clarification from Foster-Allen, she indicated that the letter is not saying that but that terminal payments are being negotiated with the Ministry of Finance.

"There is a year and nine months left in my contract at a basic gross pay of $320,000 per month, plus a monthly fixed travel allowance of $81,310 for a combined monthly gross total of $401,310 and for a gross total of $8,427,510 for the remaining 21 months of the contract," Shirley told the Observer.

He said he found it alarming that he was informed of the termination on January 25, with the effective date being January 31, 2013, despite the fact that clause 18 of his contract, which was referred to in the termination letter, reads, "This contract may be terminated by either party giving three months' notice in writing."

He said that the ministry was obligated to pay him for the full term of the contract because it was they who blocked the development of NCEL and prevented him from implementing the skills-based training programmes he had developed.

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