“Fired” UG lecturer still on the job
…can appeal to Special Committee
The University of Guyana (UG) yesterday denied that it has fired a lecturer saying that due process has not been completed as yet.
Faculty of Technology lecturer, Evan Persaud, may now have an opportunity to face a Special Committee and appeal the recommendations of a Panel of Inquiry to fire him for grave misconduct including holding examinations off-campus.
Pro-Chancellor of UG, Dr Prem Misir, who briefed the media in his Pere Street office, also disclosed that Persaud is still on the job.
It was unclear from yesterday’s press conference what repercussions, if any, Persaud’s continued presence will have at UG as several of his students had complained of discriminations and threats.
A senior UG official over the weekend said that the UG Council, following a meeting last Wednesday and based on the report of a Panel of Inquiry, had decided to terminate the contract of Persaud, who also heads up the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting and is a prominent member of the Indian Arrival Committee.
Kaieteur News also managed to acquire a copy of the report prepared by the Panel of Inquiry which clearly stated that it is recommending the termination of Persaud’s contract.
The Pro-Chancellor declined to comment on whether the council has issued a letter to Persaud that terminated his service. Persaud is to respond within 14 days of receipt of this letter.
Dr Misir stressed that Persaud, like any other staff member, deserves due process and that this is the next stage of the hearing.
“…It is now at the committee stage. That committee does not determine whether or not that person loses his job…”
According to Dr Misir, the council’s main concern is that Persaud or whoever is in the hot seat is given a fair hearing.
UG’s Statute 25 allows for investigations of complaints made by faculty members or students. There was an investigations committee that did its work and came up with a report. However, Dr Misir said, the report and its recommendations do not end there. “What has happened is that some people have seen the report as the end of this guy or any other person for that matter. It is not. It is the beginning of the whole due process. We are very concerned about fairness here.” A person has the right to appeal the recommendations of any report by a panel of inquiry and the UG Council will have to set up a Special Committee to hear any appeal. That committee will comprise of three members determined by the UG Council but who are not members of the council. The Academic Board of UG will also have to nominate two members to this Special Committee.
However, according to Dr Misir, “It has not happened as yet. So nobody has been fired or anything like that. (It is) not a case where somebody is going lose his or her job. We don’t know how all of this is going to work out.”
The Pro-Chancellor noted that until a Special Committee has a final hearing on any matter, it can even “throw out whatever you may have in your possession already.” He was referring to the report by the investigation committee that has since been forwarded to the University Council.
“The concern is that whoever is involved must be given due process… appropriate due process and a fair hearing.”
Dr Misir would not acknowledge yesterday whether UG has issued any letter to Persaud terminating his services or whether the Council has written to him informing him of the report by the investigation committee and giving him the 14 days to respond.
He disclosed that Persaud would have 14 days to reply. If no reply, then, the UG Council will meet and deliberate “and I suspect that we have to go through procedures and let due process work it out.”
Responding to a pointed question of what happens now that the students have testified before the panel and now will have to possibly face him, knowing that Persaud has seen the report, the Pro-Chancellor said that in any such scenario where institutional changes are being effected, there will be situations “where people may get hurt in the process.”
He refused to be drawn into whether he or UG will ask the lecturer to step aside pending the outcome of the process. He said that it would have to be handled by the Special Committee.
The stunning report prepared by the Panel of Inquiry found evidence that Persaud victimized and threatened students and even held an exam off-campus.
Nearly two dozen students, the lecturer and Dean of the Faculty of Technology, Sherwood Lowe, were interviewed before the report was prepared and handed to the UG Council where the decision to terminate him was made.
The report was done at the request of UG’s Registrar, Vincent Alexander, who appointed Deputy Registrar, Dr Theodosius Velloza, and Department of Law lecturer, Alicia Elias-Roberts, to the Panel of Inquiry.
According to the report, the panel listened to a CD recording of the lecturer during one of his classes in which he was heard cursing and planning to victimize a student who had reported his behaviour to the UG management.
The panel found Persaud guilty of grave misconduct for using profanity in the classroom and in addition, of violating the rights of students by writing directly to Prometheus Resources, a company which sponsors a few students, to terminate their scholarships.
These students were said to be the same ones who reported his misconduct to UG administration, the report says. UG administrators are saying that Persaud bypassed procedures by writing directly to the company.
It was also found that the lecturer acted “in a matter which can be considered inimical to the university’ by holding final exams off campus, “which would affect the quality of the degree offered by the university.”
In its recommendations, the panel called for the termination of Persaud’s contract of employment because he had violated the University Statutes and Code of Conduct for Staff which urges staffers to be aware of their responsibilities and discharge them efficiently and conscientiously.
Eighteen students disclosed that they had done at least one exam at the Russian Embassy, Kitty. However, three students of the 21 said they took part in that and exams were held on campus.
The 18 students said that they had done “fake” final exams on campus but were told by the same three students who had denied writing the exams off-campus that they would meet at another location to “make modifications to their examinations papers.”
According to the report, students said that for this off-campus test, they were given examination questions in advance.
“They said that these examinations were usually open-book type exams with wide sharing of answers and students would spend several hours or even a few days making their corrections.
The examinations were described as mini-novels, the more booklets they filled with information, the higher their grade will be.