Edna Manley staff and board at odds over treatment of principal

The faculty and staff of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) are dissatisfied with a decision by the Board of the college to send Principal Nicholeen De-Grasse Johnson on leave.

Principal, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Dr. Nicholeen DeGrasse-Johnson (second right), speaking during the opening ceremony for the institution’s annual Research in the Arts Day on Wednesday, March 7.

The development comes amid investigations of allegations that a lecturer sexually harassed a student. The staff, who met at the EMCVPA campus in Kingston yesterday, suggested that De-Grasse is being treated unfairly.

“Much time seems to have been invested in what now appears to be a well-publicized head-hunting exercise. Staff at the college has neither received nor perceived any concomitant investment from the board in addressing the hurt of its constituents – neither students nor staff,” they said in a statement to the Board.

The staff and faculty said discovering in the media what might be the fate of the leader, reeks of disregard for the college community. They argued that the manner in which communication between the board and principal has been publicized is destabilising.

“This is critical, especially for us in the Caribbean where the building of an arts institution the likes of an Edna Manley College, given our region’s history, is a hard-fought endeavour, the demise of which can be fleeting, and with which greater care must be taken. We expect this of the board, who like the staff, has taken an oath to build the institution”.

The statement, copied to the minister of education, said many at the college are deeply concerned with how the Board had taken action against the Principal, showing little to no regard for its effect on the college.