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Otto Sam wins case against Government

Otto Sam wins case against  Government


The High Court has ruled that the 2013 dismissal of former head teacher Otto Sam from the public service was “improper”, “illegal” and “disproportionate”.

Jomo Thomas, counsel for Sam, told SEARCHLIGHT that judgement was delivered Thursday by Justice Esco L Henry, who ordered that Sam receive full pay from the time he was suspended, with all benefits and full pension. He was also awarded costs and damages.

On Wednesday, May 15, 2013, Sam was relieved of his position as head teacher of the South Rivers Methodist School. He was also relieved of his assignment at the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO).{{more}}

Before that, in August 2012, Sam was suspended with half pay, as a disciplinary inquiry was instituted against him, for the letters he wrote to local media, on July 24, 2012. He was at the time assigned to NEMO.

Sam had been transferred to NEMO on August 30, 2010 from the South Rivers Methodist School, where he was head teacher. At the time of his transfer, the former president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union had been a teacher for 30 years.

Sam’s transfer to NEMO followed an unannounced visit made to the South Rivers Methodist School by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on March 21, 2010. SEARCHLIGHT understands that during that visit, Gonsalves did not first report to the head teacher’s office, which is the policy of the Ministry of Education for all visitors to academic institutions.

Gonsalves is the parliamentary representative for North Central Windward, which includes South Rivers.

Following the visit of the Prime Minister to the school, Sam wrote to Gonsalves, pointing out the alleged flouting of the Ministry’s directive. The chief education officer, it is said, then asked Sam to apologize to the Prime Minister, which Sam refused to do.

This is the second case Sam has won against the Government.

In September 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Government had illegally transferred Sam from the South Rivers Methodist School to the NEMO and instructed the Government to pay Otto Sam costs of $2,500 plus damages. Thomas told SEARCHLIGHT that an assessment of damages in the transfer matter had not yet been done.