GraceKennedy CEO condemns Calabar incident, calls for change

By March 25, 2019

On the eve of the 109th staging of the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships, title sponsor GraceKennedy has released a statement condemning the recent incident in which a teacher claimed he was assaulted by two of Calabar High School’s star athletes on December 15, 2018.

The teacher, Sanjaye Shaw, the head of the school's Physics Department, who only reported the incident to the police on Friday, hosted a press conference in Kingston later Friday afternoon, outlining the circumstances that led to the confrontation between himself and the two students over mattresses.

The two athletes were subsequently suspended but the teacher believes one of them should be barred from competing at the championships because that student was allowed to train on school grounds and compete for the school during the time he was suspended.

 In response, the school released a statement on Sunday in which it outlined its side of the situation. In that statement, the school’s principal said the students were allowed to train and compete during the suspension.

Don Wehby, GraceKennedy’s CEO, took a keen interest in the matter and having met with the Inter-secondary School Sports Association said he is disappointed in what has transpired so far.

“We met with ISSA President, Dr Walton Small, Vice President, Mr Keith Wellington and Chairman of the Organising Committee, Mrs Colleen Montague this morning (Monday). We had a thorough and frank discussion regarding the alleged incident, which, if true, presents a very serious concern for GraceKennedy as title sponsors of the event and, which GraceKennedy would condemn in the strongest possible terms,” Wehby said in the statement.

“This is the single largest sponsorship for GraceKennedy anywhere in the world, to the tune of over JMD$100 million, and as such the implications for us are huge.

“We have taken the matter so seriously that we have consulted with our attorneys, who have advised that GraceKennedy does not have the power to decide which athletes participate in Champs and cannot determine what action the school or ISSA takes with regard to the alleged incident.  Further, having met with ISSA this morning, we have now been made to understand that ISSA is also not in a position to make such a determination. The decision rests squarely with the Board of Calabar High School.”

Two athletes were suspended for five days each, according to the statement released by the school.

However, Wehby said that there are lessons to learn from the situation.

“This entire situation represents an opportunity for change and is a teachable moment for all stakeholders including all School Boards and the Ministry of Education. Our understanding is that there is currently a Code of Regulations under the Education Act, which governs the conduct of students in schools, and which is currently under review,” the CEO said.

“This alleged incident provides an opportunity for the acceleration of this review, so that, in the future, anyone in breach will be held firmly to account.”  

“He concluded that they are committed to working with ISSA, with whom we have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship over the years, for the continued success of this world-class event.

Calabar High School is going for an eighth consecutive title at the championships.


Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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