The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) has requested the disclosure of documents related to a lawsuit which resulted in the reinstatement of a long-serving teacher, who turned down a promotion to be a principal of one of its primary schools due to her daughter’s medical condition before having a change of heart days later.
Last Wednesday, High Court Judge Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell ordered the Ministry of Education and the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) to reinstate Indra Ramdatt-Jagdeo as principal of the Happy Hill SDMS Primary School in Gasparillo effective January 2, next year.
In a letter to TSC chairman, Elizabeth Crouch, sent yesterday and obtained by Guardian Media, the SDMS’s lawyer Dinesh Rambally said his client only became aware of what transpired based on newspaper reports.
Rambally requested the disclosure of Ramdatt-Jagdeo’s court filings and also enquired whether its views on the issue, communicated to the ministry and the commission in numerous correspondence, formed part of the evidence in the case.
He noted that shortly after Ramdatt-Jagdeo resigned, it recommended another teacher at the school to act in the position.
He also pointed out that his client stood by its recommendation of the other teacher when the commission contact it in September to express the view that Ramdatt-Jagdeo’s appointment was still valid.
“The SDMS’s primary concern has always been and continues to be the safety of students, the overall stability and success of the school,” Rambally said.
According to her court filings in April, Ramdatt-Jagdeo took up a promotion to be the principal of the school.
Ramdatt-Jagdeo, who is a widow and has been a single parent to her two children for the past 15 years, claimed that around the time she took up the appointment the health of her daughter, who has a spinal birth defect, began to worsen.
She claimed that she was distressed and had doubts over her ability to take on the promotion based on her daughter’s deteriorating condition and the fact that she (her daughter) was due to undergo a risky procedure which could result in her being paralysed from the neck down.
In late April, she tendered her resignation based on alleged advice from an unnamed official of the TSC as she claimed that she was under the impression that she could resume her duties as a teacher after.
Her resignation letter was only received several days later when it was stamped by a school supervisor.
Two days later, Ramdatt-Jagdeo had a change of heart and wrote to the ministry seeking to rescind her previous correspondence.
While ministry officials allegedly indicated that the withdrawal of her resignation could be facilitated based on the short time line, she was later informed that this was not possible due to resistance from the school’s denominational board.
Ramdatt-Jagdeo claimed that she met with board officials, who indicated that they preferred that she did not return to the post based on her indecisiveness.
She claimed that she was forced to file the lawsuit after she attempted to rectify the situation with the ministry to no avail.
In her court filings, Ramdatt-Jagdeo’s lawyers from Freedom Law Chambers claimed that she is regretful for the inconvenience caused by the initial letter.
“Within two days she submitted the letter of retraction, yet she has been left in a state of abeyance and limbo when she has not been appointed to serve in an office in the teaching service. This has caused her severe hardship, much stress and grave inconvenience,” they said.
Through the lawsuit, Ramdatt-Jagdeo was seeking a declaration that she was treated unfairly and contrary to the principles of natural justice.
Justice Donaldson-Honeywell issued the order as the ministry and the commission reportedly conceded the case.
She also ordered that the ministry continue to pay Ramdatt-Jagdeo her salary and benefits as a school principal.
The TSC and the ministry were also ordered to pay her legal costs for pursuing the case.
Ramdatt-Jagdeo was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Kent Samlal, Natasha Bisram, Vishaal Siewsaran, and Jared Jagroo.