In limbo

Student ordered to leave Springer amid ongoing row

An already contentious situation at Springer Memorial School took a turn for the worse today as police were called in after Principal Pauline Benjamin is reported to have asked the student at the centre of the “wrapper controversy” to leave the compound.

From left, the student at the centre of the “wrapper controversy”, her mother Elecia Weekes and child advocate Shelly Ross outside the Ministry of Education today.
From left, the student at the centre of the “wrapper controversy”, her mother Elecia Weekes and child advocate Shelly Ross outside the Ministry of Education today.

Law enforcement officials were seen outside the school gate around 11 a.m. today accompanying the 14-year-old’s mother Elecia Weekes, along with the child – who has been barred from classes for eight weeks – and Parental Advisor Shelley Ross.

Barbados TODAY understands that Weekes called in the police after her daughter rang to inform her that the principal had allegedly ordered her to get out of the school’s uniform because the child “don’t belong at this school”.

“This morning my daughter called me when I was in my garden and told me she is in the principal’s office and said, ‘mummy the principal says I have to get off the school premises, I don’t belong here, I need to go’.

“Then she calls me back and says, ‘mummy the principal has escorted me to the gate and asked me to take off Springer Memorial’s uniform, I don’t belong at this school,’” Weekes later told Barbados TODAY.

It was not immediately clear what role the police were expected to play, but following a conversation with the law enforcement officials the mother left for the Ministry of Education with the student and Ross in tow, seeking a meeting with Chief Education Officer Karen Best or Senior Education Officer Patricia Warner.

Told that they were both unavailable, Weekes emerged from the reception area and told journalists that she was asked to sign papers confirming a transfer to Ellerslie Secondary, but she refused.

“I go asking for the Chief Education Officer and they said she is not there but somebody is pushing a paper at me to sign for a transfer to Ellerslie.

“My lawyer was trying to get a meeting with them for a long time now and they have been avoiding him,” she charged.

Weekes complained that the entire episode was having a negative impact on her daughter’s education because she was missing out on preparations for upcoming CXC examinations.

She said it also had an emotional effect on the teenager who was suffering from headaches and experiencing sleepless nights.

“This is horrible. Somebody has got to compensate me for what is going on with my child. She asked me if I can give her something to help her sleep because at 3 a.m. she is still tryingwto get to sleep. I told her no.

“We are now into eight weeks. As a mother I am suffering because anything that hurts your child, kills a mother,”
Weekes said.

Ross, the producer and editor of the Barbados Children Directory, an online resource guide for parents, said she contacted Weekes to offer her support because the controversy was not just about a student’s refusal to pick up a piece of wrapper, but rather an abuse of power, bullying and child abuse.

Ross argued that the child was within her rights to refuse to pick up the wrapper and it was unfortunate that neither the school nor the Ministry of Education met with the parent in an attempt to find a solution to the problem.

“They put the child out of school and that is illegal. The mother never signed or agreed to a transfer so the child should not be put out of school.

“When she is transferred to a school and will be known as the child with the garbage issue, it is going to have serious psychological effects. What should be done is to leave her at Springer where her friends are.

“Or if we are going to transfer her, she has to go where the environment is right and conducive to learning. Let’s sit down and talk and be reasonable,” Ross said.

Barbados TODAY reported last Friday that Weekes had rejected the offer of a transfer to Ellerslie, claiming her son, who attended that school, had a bad experience there in the past.

However, the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) issued a brief release this evening quoting Best as saying that the pupil had been transferred to the Black Rock,
St Michael learning institution.

“Mrs Best stated that on January 27, the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation issued correspondence to the parent of the child notifying her that her daughter had been transferred to Ellerslie Secondary School with immediate effect,” the BGIS release stated.

It said the principals of both Ellerslie and Springer had been informed of the transfer, adding that the child’s records showed that Ellerslie was one of her options in the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination.

“We have done our due diligence in this matter,” it quoted the chief education officer as saying.

Weekes has insisted on being given a say on which school the daughter is transferred to.

She had previously turned down an offer to transfer the child to Daryll Jordan Secondary School.

19 Responses to In limbo

  1. Maria Leclair
    Maria Leclair February 9, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Enough already, there are much more important things in this world. Time for all morons to move on. What’s done is done.

  2. Andrew Simpson February 9, 2016 at 7:48 am

    A letter of apology from the student and family, addressed through the principal of the school could go a ways toward diffusing this situation. Repentance yields forgiveness.
    A valuable lesson has been learned and for this we are thankful.
    The interest of the child must be foremost.

  3. diana payne February 9, 2016 at 8:45 am

    The mother is her daughter own nightmare, cuz when she came home an told her crap she shud hav gone to the school an let the child apologice to the teacher an settle the matter, wat Is a wrapper to pick up an then wash your hands, imagine a piece of garbage is gonna deprive her of her education.its so sad.

  4. Meakai February 9, 2016 at 10:45 am

    The interest of the child must be foremost.

    So true.
    Sadly this mother cannot and presumably will not see that she, more than any other, has been acting against the best interest of the child. Too err is human, continuing to err is …

    Her ready access to the media is becoming farcical.

  5. Joanne Forde Bennet February 9, 2016 at 10:49 am

    This is an abuse of power by educational administrators. No way in heck should the child be escorted off school grounds or asked to leave. No criminal acts were committed. If this story is accurate, as a former Springer student, I am utterly ashamed and disappointed. Refusal to pick up a wrapper??? Give me a break. Too much control is the problem here and whomever insists on picking up a wrapper needs to be trained or retrained. This is a very trivial situation and I’m sure there are other issues of a higher magnitude that needs attention. Get it together people. Stop hurting the children.

  6. Kim February 9, 2016 at 11:22 am

    In my opinion the child has been punished enough, miss Benjamin say she runs the school not the ministry so that says it all for me

  7. Bobo February 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Bajans–don’t you think its time you start to learn about your Constitutional Rights –Politicians are servants of the population, when there is an urgent issue– the head of the entity to solve the problem should not hide behind closed doors such as R Jones, how is it all last week he had time to relate to newspaper pure and simple ignorance— explaining his concern about Gay people —an honorable female student ”the country future innovator” he has not find time to meet her mother or her lawyer, I wonder if the said student was a ”boy” would he have done the same disrespect–
    Bajans–Child Rights– this young student ”rights” has been abuse from left to right– (principle -teacher and R Jones) the government of Barbados should have they date in court — for abuse and negligence.

    Our Black children future continued to disappear under the hands
    of Black primitive politicians.

    o ever is

    hat he can find time to Polician The Rights of a Child —

  8. June February 9, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    This education sistem is corup i no what this lady an her child is going true caused i had the same problem with my son at st lenors boys an up to this day never get any satisfaction from the them an also was told by the principal that the ministry dont run the school an my son was put out of school from the age of 14 untill now an he is 17 so i no what he is goin true u will not get satisfaction from nother of the side

  9. Monica Wilson February 9, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Where is the Minister of Education. How dare the principal tell the girl to”get out of the uniform”. This should be between the adults. Whether wrong or right once again the future of a child has been totally disregarded

  10. ryan February 9, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    ya see wanna bajans is some shite else if tht was somebody with money or status in this country it would be a different situation the child is not a member of the grounds staff and so has a right to refuse to pick up litter that she has not placed there .but i hope when the shoe on the other foot the same people hold to their comments .

  11. a best February 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    There is an old saying: “everyone who is teaching is not a teacher.” Never call on an individual student to do something that you are not ready to show that you are willing to do yourself. The school missed a teachable moment. The teacher should have picked it up herself. Then give a short lecture on humility , one on social responsibility, and another one on keeping the environment clean. But I hazard a guess that the outdated system of education in Barbados based on rote learning and memorization, with no emphasis on critical thinking, leaves no room for this type of education. The student is correct. She is not there to clean up garbarage. Is there no code of conduct for students, teachers, and administrators? Let us hope that the ministry developes a code of conduct as a result of this, so that this does not happen to another child. As an educator in both Barbados and Canada for over 40 years. I am appalled that this child has had to suffer because of an abuse of power. Would this happen to Mr. Upper class person’ child?

  12. ART February 9, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Be careful for speaking the truth Bobo . I spoke the truth in another forum,and was told how stupid i am. It is sad to see School Principals still acting as if they are still in the 50’s with that slave mentality,do as i say or else.

  13. Deborah Atkins February 9, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    I hope this mother do not have anymore children. Her son had a problem at Ellerslie, her daughter is having a problem at Springer. She needs to have a self examination as a mother.

  14. Annoyed February 10, 2016 at 2:02 am

    Even so she can’t make the child remove the clothes her mother paid for and then remove them and do what stand side of the road half naked? She can’t have girl children then because any person with children be they man or woman would be upset over that situation. In my opinion for an adult and a principal and for someone who should know better she acted unprofessional, immature and unethical. And i know if mr.broomes had done that to a student everybody would want to crucify him and have him removed from the school. Real talk

  15. Tony Waterman February 10, 2016 at 5:44 am

    I have followed this debacle ever since it started, and a very sinister plot is unfolding as it plays out. first off let me state it loud and clear, That 14 year old pupil is the ONLY source of this trouble, there were apparently 2 or three other Girls with her when this episode first erupted, they apparently ran off, but she did NOT, WHY??? in my HUMBLE opinion she was looking for a Confrontation with the Superior who gave the order to pick up the Candy Wrapper, not that she necessarly was the one who dropped the wrapper, but she was the one who remained on the scene. in the real World, if this was a corner store Robbery, and she was the one left i that position, she would have been arrested for the crime.(Real World)
    The Mother and all her Brain Dead Cohorts are the one making a Mountain out of this molehill. Dhe was offered a transfewr to Ellerslie and another school and she has refused both offers, BUT!!! Ellerslie was the ALTERNATE on the Pupil’s 11Plus Form. so!!! Why the refusal now.
    The Mother as i see it is trying to do now what did not happen at 11 Plus time, although the ALTERNATE was Ellerslie, she want to get her Daughter Transferred to St.Miclaels or Foundation, in other words in her mind she want her daughter placed in a BETTER School.
    That mother has now put her Daughter in an UNTENABLE Position in the School system in Barbados, because it does not matter now which School she ends up at, she WILL be regarded even covertly as the WRAPPER Pupil, and Teachers will be very WARY when dealing with her.
    @Monica Wilson!!!! The Principal has all the right to ask her not to use the Schools Uniform, because she was Taken off the Schools Register, and that WAS Transmitted to her Mother by a Letter from the Chief Education Officer Mrs Karen Best, unless the Postman did not deliver that Letter, then the Mother is now IGNORING the Ministry of Education. her daughter does not have to pick up the wrapper, and she does not have to follow instructions from the Ministry, it seems that the Mother has a problem with AUTHORITY and is teaching her Daughter to follow in her Footsteps.That Apple has fallen under the Tree.
    Good Luck to both of them as their Lives unfold
    (If anyone think i an wrong. go back in the Archives and follow the Story)

  16. Cherene Ward February 10, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Thank u Corey Waterman… Was hoping someone saw the bigger picture and that u did

  17. Cherene Ward February 10, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Thank u Tony Waterman… Was hoping someone saw the bigger picture and that u did

  18. suzzy February 10, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    I just want to ask this question what type of standards we as parents are setting for our children.?

  19. caleb carter February 11, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Ppl needs to understand one thing none a we ain’t know how things start off if she was ask to pick a raper she didn’t put on the ground and she said she’s not picking up she doesn’t have to. But ya see saying no pisses off ppl in authority I can say this becuz I was sent home for not apologizing to the pe teachers for something I know I wasn’t wrong about. Went home came back skool and was told to do the same. Finished skool 3 years now still never did apologize Cuz I know I didn’t do anything wrong for me to give anyone an apology. My point I’m getting at is adults or ppl in authority thinks that a child should not speak to dem in a certain manner and should do what ever is said to be done becuz they have the authority to do so. Same way she asked that girl to pick the raper up she could of done herself also but nobody ain’t gine say dat. Power n position can cloud anyone’s judgment and think they can use to push whoever they feel like around but it doesn’t work with everyone.


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