Pressure is mounting for Principal of Charlemont High School Garth Gayle to give an explanation regarding the disappearance of 44 tablets, which a group of past students in the United States donated for needy students at the school located in Linstead, St Catherine.
The group, Friends of Charlemont High School (FOCHS), is a breakaway from the Charlemont High School Past Students Association.
It was formed recently because its members were not pleased with the manner in which the school’s Past Students Association was publicly accusing Gayle of poor leadership and lack of accountability.
FOCHS was hoping to have a more cordial relationship with Gayle, but, as time unfolds, it, too, has ended up questioning Gayle’s leadership abilities.
That’s partly because Gayle has been dismissive of the group’s requests for his assistance in solving the case of the missing tablets, said David Marshall, president of the FOCHS group of donors.
He explained that the group had asked Gayle to, above all other things, provide documentation showing the number of tablets cleared from Kingston Logistics Center.
“The broker [selected by Gayle] signed the declaration form on the 6th [of December 2021] saying that there were 80 tablets, and he delivered the package to Mr Gayle on the 10th of December. I don’t know how many tablets he actually collected or delivered,” added Marshall. “One thing that is missing is the paperwork that the broker used to clear the tablets.”
Marshall said his group learnt of the missing gadgets because one of its overseas members was visiting the island, and so stopped at the school on December 13 last year to formally check and hand over the box of tablets.
“Everybody was kinda shocked because we sent 80 tablets [from the United States] and 44 are missing,” Marshall added. “We bought 80 tablets and 80 cases at a cost of over JA$1 million and all 80 cases were still there. I started telling Mr Gayle that we needed some documentation from the guy who cleared them to see how many tablets he picked up… Nobody is giving us even a made-up story.”
Marshall stated that Gayle, instead of assisting, eventually started to come across as being rude to the donors requesting clarity.
“If we are asking for doucments, why wouldn’t he try to provide the documents?” Marshall asked, adding that it appears Gayle and the customs broker are close friends.
FOCHS brought the matter to the attention of the school’s board of governors, headed by Professor Carol Clarke. But, according to Marshall, no meaningful assistance has yet come from the board as it relates to clarity.
Marshall also claimed that it is not the first time that his group of Charlemont past students is having issues regarding transparency when it donates items for needy students at the school under Gayle’s leadership.
He declared: “As long as Mr Gayle is the principal at Charlemont High School we are not sending anything else to the school. Either we deal with the kids directly or we send it to somebody, but we are not sending anything else to him. The situation is disgusting. We feel deceived, just shocked and disappointed. It is not a good feeling because we put effort into raising the funds to purchase the tablets and it also took a lot of planning.”
When contacted, Gayle told The Beacon: “I am very much aware of the situation, and the matter has already been dealt with at the board level and they (FOCHS) would have been advised accordingly. We are still in a quandary; the items that were received were received short. We are saddened and still are unable to give an answer to it. We are doing our best up to this point and the matter, as I would repeat, is being dealt with at the board level.”
In the meantime, FOCHS stated that one of the 36 tablets received by the school was given as a prize to a representative of the education ministry who was at the school.
Gayle told The Beacon that, after FOCHS raised concern about the tablet being given away to an adult as a prize, it was returned.
“If a tablet has been given to the school and the school is using it for education, I don’t know what else is of major concern. Suffice to say that they (FOCHS members) raised a concern and the tablet has been returned forthwith,” he further said. He also declined to comment further on the issues.
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