NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd has demanded a written apology from Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson after she allegedly cursed at him during a WhatsApp exchange last month.
In a letter adressed to Elma Garraway, chairman of the National Advisory Council on Education (NACE) yesterday, Lloyd said Wilson’s behavior and attitude throughout his tenure has become intolerable, and represents a “real threat” to the advancement of education in the country.
“You are, hereby, informed that without a written apology from the president to the ministry’s leadership, the Ministry of Education will not attend any meeting with NACE in which the president is present,” Lloyd wrote.
The minister said the most egregious insult occurred in a WhatsApp message from Wilson to himself on August 23.
The education minister said Wilson wrote: “(expletive) ya’ll.”
“Apparently, realizing the gravity of her error, she immediately deleted the comment, but not before I had seen it.”
Lloyd said he was shocked by the comment, and responded: “(expletive) y’all!?! I hope I never get to the point where I disrespect or insult you…”
He said Wilson replied: “Well, that’s where I am!”
Lloyd said he hosted a virtual meeting with ministry stakeholders, including BUT executives and the managerial union, the following day.
He said he did not mention the “despicable message”, but Wilson sent him another WhatsApp message following the meeting.
According to Lloyd, she wrote: “See why I say (expletive) ya’ll.”
Last night, Wilson said the letter from the ministry has been sent to the union’s attorney.
“It’s a distraction to take away from the myriad of problems and uncertainty about the reopening of schools,” said Wilson.
”But I will continue to work on behalf of the thousands of teachers in the Bahamas Union of Teachers. I will not be deterred.”
For his part, Lloyd said the leadership of the ministry has worked to forge a harmonious and constructive relationship with the BUT over the past three years, but has had those efforts met with insults and disrespect that threatens the quality of the public education system.
He underscored the statement objectives to work together on public education goals through orderly and constructive relations, as enshrined in the ministry’s industrial agreement with the union, and its statement of purpose.
Lloyd said: “Unfortunately, our best efforts and sincere good faith have been met too often with insults, disrespect and the creation of an atmosphere by the president that the ministry contends threaten the ‘sustainable world-class quality education’ our Bahamian students desire and deserve, and to which, by the agreement, the parties committed themselves.”
In his letter, Lloyd references two separate instances when Wilson allegedly insulted the Education director.
He said Wilson was issued a warning letter on both occasions, but did not respond.
Lloyd also listed “disruptive” acts led by Wilson over the past three years, namely industrial action at several public schools and a walkout last year that resulted in a court injunction.
He added: “Further, without a written, irrevocable commitment from the president that her disrespectful insulting behavior ceases immediately, and that she will demonstrate an earnest, good faith attempt at achieving the world class education for our children, she will receive no accommodation from this ministry as a credible representative of the teachers of the Ministry of Education.”