The former Acting Principal of the Antigua State College, Dr. Na-Ajele Williams-Buffonge, has been reinstated by the Industrial Court to her position, a source tells REAL News. In keeping with the Court Order, the source says she was reintroduced to her staff this week, by Director of Education Clare Browne.
Sources say her reinstatement took effect on October 1st, which was a Saturday, and so Williams-Buffonge returned to head the institution as of Monday, October 3, which has caused Jacqueline Richardson to revert to the position of Deputy Principal.
The matter stems from an altercation between Williams-Buffonge and then Education Minister Michael Browne two years ago. At the time, REAL News reported that the two had gotten into a confrontation during a telephone conversation, and Browne felt he had been disrespected.
The Minister was said to have reported the incident to the Ministry’s management – Permanent Secretary Rosa Greenaway and the Director of Education. They looked into the matter and subsequently prepared a report, which was forwarded to the Public Service Commission (PSC), which sent the College official on paid special leave, as of February 24, 2020, while an investigation was launched.
Reportedly, the Court found that the Commission had failed to observe a crucial step before it took the action, and therefore was at fault. In addition to the reinstatement, the source tells our News Room that punitive damages were considered, but she is not sure whether they were awarded to Williams-Buffonge.
While the incident took place during Williams-Buffonge’s tenure as Acting Principal of the College, her substantive post was then Head of the Department of Arts (formerly the A-Levels Department).