A veteran educator has denied any involvement in “altering or doctoring” a damning report on behavior in Cayman’s schools.
A draft version of an independent consultant’s report – which highlighted serious concerns about the management of bad behavior in Cayman’s classrooms – was tabled during government Finance Committee hearings in June, alongside a much shorter final version, radically altered from the original.
At the time, education officials said the draft report by British consultant David Moore had to be altered to meet the “quality standards” of the Ministry of Education.
Favourita Blanchard, the deputy lead inspector on the locally based review team that assisted Mr. Moore, was referenced by name in the Legislative Assembly and by title in a ministry press release as having “finalized” the report, at the request of the ministry, to ensure it met standards.
Mrs. Blanchard, who has since returned to her homeland of Barbados, issued a statement on Tuesday through the Barbados Consulate in Cayman.
She said, “I wish to categorically state that, as a person of high ethical and moral standards, I would never change the content or indeed the findings of a report written by someone else and I deny any accusation of my having done so.”
In response, the ministry on Wednesday issued a statement, attributed to Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues who is on annual leave, saying the ministry wished to “set the record straight” that Mrs. Blanchard “did not unilaterally change the draft inspection report.”
The statement did not specify exactly how the report was changed from its draft version to the final edit or who was responsible for the edits, which saw the report trimmed down from 28 to 15 pages and many of the recommendations removed. A ministry spokesperson said further information would be released in the coming week.
The ministry suggested in its statement that the changes were made collaboratively between the local team and Mr. Moore.
“From the very outset, it was the expectation that the consultant would engage with the local team throughout the drafting process, and he actively sought the input of both Mrs. Blanchard and the chief policy adviser from the ministry, who was assigned in an oversight capacity.”
The ministry’s chief policy adviser at the time was Jo Wood.
Mrs. Blanchard, in her statement, said she wanted to clear up any false impression that she had edited or altered someone else’s work.
She wrote, “I was named by the press in some instances, and in others it was implied that I am the person who amended, edited, or doctored the said report.”
She said she had written to the Ministry of Education when the story first emerged, following the Legislative Assembly Finance Committee debate in June, asking them to clarify that she had not altered the content of the report.
The ministry, in its response, said Mrs. Blanchard’s name had come up in answer to questions posed by legislators in Finance Committee, when both reports were tabled for the first time.
“The Ministry of Education wishes to set the record straight that Mrs. Favourita Blanchard did not unilaterally change the draft inspection report,” the statement read. “Mrs. Blanchard, the only employee in the inspections unit at the time, was instructed by the chief officer to liaise with the consultant on any editing to be made to the draft report, to ensure the report met the quality standards required of all inspection reports.”
She added, “The ministry can also confirm that Mrs. Blanchard did nothing wrong, and was only undertaking her duties as instructed by the chief officer. In all her time working with the ministry, Mrs. Blanchard’s work was of the highest moral and ethical standards.”
The Compass tried to reach Ms. Rodrigues to clarify exactly how the report was altered and by whom, but she was unavailable.
The Compass tried to contact Mr. Moore, but he did not respond to requests for comment.