Teachers concerned about safety after pupils take weapons to school
Teachers at Parkinson Memorial Secondary are expected to go on the picket line tomorrow morning to protest principal Jeff Broomes’ failure to take disciplinary action against students who took knives and other weapons to school.
President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Pedro Shepherd confirmed the planned action in an interview with Barbados TODAY, saying teachers were concerned about their safety.
“It is a fact. The teachers are going to protest tomorrow . . . There was an incident last week where some students brought knives and other weapons on the compound. They were not flogged, they were not suspended, so that is one of the reasons they are protesting tomorrow,” he said.
“From as early as 8:40 a.m., when school is scheduled to commence, protest action will begin.”
When contacted, Broomes told Barbados TODAY that he had been told about the planned action but was not sure why it was being taken.
“I have been informed by at least three members of the teaching staff that the BUT will be taking action tomorrow. The teachers have said nothing to me, and I am concerned that this may leave too many children unsupervised. I have received the word and I have officially communicated with the Ministry of Education,” Broomes said.
“I do not appreciate this clandestine behaviour. If they are going to take industrial action be bold and say so!”
Officials of the Ministry of Education could not be reached for comment on the developments at the Pine, St Michael educational institution.
The strike threat is the latest development in a long running battle between the BUT, which represents teachers at the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School, and the principal.
While the BUT has been vocal about its dissatisfaction with Broomes’ management style, Shepherd made it clear today that the action planned for tomorrow was not to address that, but to protest indiscipline among students.
The union had given the Ministry of Education two weeks – which expired last month – to indicate the status of investigations into the Parkinson and Alma Parris Memorial Secondary schools.
However, the Ministry had asked for the opportunity to continue its probe into the conditions of work at the institutions, including the teachers’ concerns about the management style of both principals.
In a statement issued through the Government Information Service this evening, the Ministry said it “continues to pay close attention” to the BUT’s calls for it to address issues at the two schools and assured it was “taking deliberate steps to treat to the concerns of the union in order to ensure that any conclusion reached will be in the best interest of all parties concerned”.
“[The Ministry] is acutely aware that matters of this nature require due diligence . . . The Ministry, as always, is especially committed to the preservation of the teaching and learning environment at all public educational institutions across the island,” it said.
The Ministry added that while it might appear that the course of action was not moving at the pace anticipated by the BUT, “it must be borne in mind that the Ministry has a responsibility to ensure that all parties are given the benefit of due process”.
“Until such time as we have completed conducting a thorough investigation and reviewed all of the findings raised before us, it would be imprudent to draw conclusions or proceed with any definitive course of action. In the interim, the Ministry continues to seek solutions to these complex problems,” the statement ended.
The BUT has also given the Personnel Administration Division six weeks to complete the appointment of all temporary teachers in Barbados. That deadline is due to expire on February 18.