State to compensate teacher for bungling promotion

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

– File photo

A SECONDARY school teacher has scored a victory against the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) over his promotion.

In a recent ruling, Justice Betsy Ann Lambert-Peterson held Ravindra Ramnanan was entitled to be treated fairly by a public authority.

On March 1, the judge declared that the PSC breached Ramnanan’s rights to equality of treatment and protection.

On June 26, she ordered compensation of $80,000 for Ramnaman for the breach of his constitutional rights with interest.

Lambert-Peterson also quashed a decision by the TSC, on October 19, 2022, to refuse to vary its decision to promote him to head of department (secondary) science at the Marabella North Secondary School (MNSS) and ordered his promotion to the post at the Pleasantville Secondary School effective April 19, 2022.

Ramnanan had applied for a promotion and provided the names of four schools as mandated by the TSC. He was interviewed, passed and put on an order of merit list for the post.

However, the TSC failed to publish the list and Ramnanan was forced to file a freedom of information request to find out his position.

He was at number 18.

In her ruling, the judge pointed out that when she gave her ruling, the TSC still had not published the merit list for the office of head of department (secondary).

Since there were no vacant positions at the four schools he chose, he asked to select other schools because of his concern that the limitation of choices could result in him being bypassed for promotion by someone lower placed on the merit list.

He was eventually placed at the Siparia East Secondary School in April 2022, his ninth choice.

Ramnanan later found out the position at the MNSS – his fourth choice – was filled by someone ranked lower on the merit list.

He also did his investigations and found out his first three choices were not filled and sought placement at one of those schools. The TSC refused. The judge said the TSC ought to have known from its records that Ramnanan’s first three choices were available when he asked to be placed at MNSS.

“The TSC did not allow the claimant to make an informed choice in validation of his rank on the OML, in accordance with the policy and established practice.”

She also outlined some anomalies in the promotion of other teachers on the merit list, which led to the reversal of promotions.

In her assessment of damages, the judge said the number of times the anomaly in the promotion process arose, “it should now be clear to the TSC that it must adopt a methodology of placement on promotion that validates the rank of persons on the OML.”

She said the aggravating factor in Ramnanan’s case was the TSC’s refusal to vary its decision on his placement as it had done with another teacher at the time.

“The claimant was made to painstakingly establish his case, and the TSC still did not vary its decision.”

It was for this reason she ordered the Attorney General to compensate Ramnanan.

Ramnanan was represented by attorneys Navindra Ramnanan and Ricky Pandohee. The TSC and the AG were represented by Stefan Jaikaran, Rachael Jacob, Melissa Papoonsingh and Krystyn Lewis.