Who is really in charge?

Although I am totally in favour of Matthew Farley or any other principal enforcing dress codes and disciplining students for breaching any rules as set out by the Ministry of Education, I am totally against the manner in which Principal of the Graydon Sealy Secondary School, Matthew Farley handled the last situation at his school — sending home the students for an entire week.

Farley is an employee of the Ministry of Education and was placed there to manage the affairs of the school. This does not mean that he can do as he likes. In this case, he should have sent home the students that were in breach of the school dress codes with a letter to their parents requesting that the parent come to the school with the child for a meeting with the principal, before he or she could return to the classroom.

His decision to send the students home for a week was too harsh and as far as I am concerned, such a decision should only be made by the Ministry of Education, which is the overall administrator of the school system, where individual principals are placed to manage the day-to-day affairs of the schools.

A principal does not own the school. He cannot hire or fire anyone (although this might have happen at some schools) in the past. Yes, he has the authority to discipline students to a certain degree by law, within certain parameters, but to go beyond certain limits he should have the get the consent of his employers, the Ministry of Education.

Who is really in charge, the ministry or the principals? If this is a case where the principals have that authority vested in them to manage the schools as they see fit, then we can understand where we can and will see all types of problems emerging at all the schools. We just saw a case of where such authority was given to a principal of a secondary school, which eventually brought the entire school into dispute.

In today’s school environment, there are a lot of school children who would rather not be in school and they would take every opportunity not to be there; because some of them are not interested in learning, and therefore flout the laws as an excuse not to be in school.

Can students afford to be out of school for so many days? A number of days are lost each term for one reason or the other, for example Teachers Professional Day!

I am aware of the problems with the school uniforms and what students would do to create a style in order to be different from the others. I can guarantee the ministry or the principals that this is a problem that will not go away that easily and that they will have to find an alternative method to deal with the situation.

I could make a recommendation, but it would means breaking from tradition, but I am sure that neither the ministry nor government would want to part with their old colonial mentality?

— Wayne Cadogan, Designer/Consultant

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