‘Wrapper’ talks

Progress but no resolution to Springer row

A “very cordial” meeting at the Ministry of Education today failed to resolve the row over a 14-year-old Springer Memorial School student’s refusal to pick up a wrapper more than two months ago.

However, a lawyer for the pupil’s mother Elecia Weekes reported progress in the talks with Minister of Education Ronald Jones, although there was no decision on when the girl would return to the classroom.

Weekes, her lawyer Steve Straughn and child advocate Shelley Ross emerged from the closed-door meeting about two hours after the scheduled 10 a.m. start to reveal little to the waiting media.

From left, Elecia Weekes, child advocate Shelley Ross and Weekes’ lawyer Steve Straughn met with Minister of Education Ronald Jones today.
From left, Elecia Weekes, child advocate Shelley Ross and Weekes’ lawyer
Steve Straughn met with Minister of Education Ronald Jones today.

A usually outspoken Weekes was tightlipped, but Straughn said in a brief statement that the parties had agreed to work in the child’s best interest and were putting structures in place to ensure her return to school.

“So basically we had a very cordial meeting in this matter and we are looking forward to a resolution in the matter. The main point is to get [the student] back into school and to get her that education. We are currently in discussions to have the matter resolved. We have not arrived at an end to the matter but we are getting there,” Straughn said.

Jones called the meeting after a wave of criticism over his inaction on a dispute that began over two months ago.

The student was suspended for refusing to pick up a wrapper after she was ordered to do so by a teacher and the principal.

At the end of her suspension she was kept away from classes because of her continued refusal to pick up litter, her mother claimed.

The already contentious situation took a turn for the worse when police were called in to Springer Memorial by Weekes on Monday after her daughter was ordered off the compound by Principal Pauline Benjamin.

The Barbados Government Information Service later issued a brief release quoting Chief Education Officer Karen Best as saying that the pupil had been transferred to Ellerslie Secondary School.

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

Weekes had previously revealed that she had rejected the proposed transfer and insisted on being given a say on which school her daughter was transferred to.

While today’s meeting was in progress a solitary protestor camped outside the Ministry’s gates with placard in hand expressing support for the Springer principal.

With the unforgiving mid-morning sun beating down on him, the protestor, Stephen Pollard, called on Jones to stamp out rudeness from Barbadian schools.

“If Mr Jones don’t do something about what is happening now, this child case will be a full test case for the last straw of education in Barbados because young people will resist the teachers,” said Pollard, a retired public servant who worked in education.

“When I was working I saw children resisting teachers, I saw school children beating teachers and I saw teachers beating children physically and these things shouldn’t happen. I pick up papers at school and it ain’t do me nothing,” Pollard said. 

15 Responses to ‘Wrapper’ talks

  1. Dawn Franklin
    Dawn Franklin February 13, 2016 at 4:23 am

    Wanna keep expecting so much from Ronald Jones and this government. Still awaiting on the fishing agreement soup done drink long time. What was the menu for a wrapper.

  2. Minimusclecat Howard
    Minimusclecat Howard February 13, 2016 at 4:51 am

    I dont get ppl understand all of this because of a wrapper the head teacher could of deal with this much better. What about the child education.if that was a fight and she had a weapon she would of be back at school eversense.the ppl of barbados and the government keep failing our children of tomorrow if wanna don’t watch it wanna gine out that child throught to much and she might hurt she self

    • Andrew the Voice. February 13, 2016 at 6:44 am


  3. Ann Batey
    Ann Batey February 13, 2016 at 5:29 am

    All that needed to happen was for the child to say sorry

  4. Eugene Holder
    Eugene Holder February 13, 2016 at 5:32 am

    Even with the highest level of intervention, there is no resolution. Somebody is playing ‘hardball’ here. Another week out of school?

  5. Kurt Alleyne February 13, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Social order and solving problems are suppose to be pillars of education. ” My job is secure. No one else want it.” We try justifying stupid actions from those be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

  6. julyon February 13, 2016 at 7:42 am

    She got ONE YEAR left, she mudda betta tek de transfer and let she learn sumting . goin back tuh Springer is not a wise wish.

  7. maxjustina February 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Where did this situation begin? Did the child drop the wrapper? Did the teacher or Principal see her drop the wrapper? Was it a known fact to the student that when there was litter that you “chip in” and help to keep the school tidy? What would have caused the student to behave in such a defensive manner? Did she feel some measure of resentment towards the one who instructed her to take up the wrapper? Was this the first time that this student behaved in this manner to authority figures in the school? Was it something that the mother may have said about the operation of the school in regards to the issue of not littering? Was it the first time that this student was suspended? Does the issue of respect of figures in authority come into perspective here? Was she encouraged by her peers to obey the instruction of the authority figure in the school? Was this child raised by real Barbadian parents? What would have happened if the student had picked up the wrapper and then sought to let the teacher and the Principal know how she felt about the situation?
    Can we rule out the idea that the spirit of pride has caused this situation to escalate to this level on the part of the student and her mother? Where did the spirit of humility go? Where were the mediators? What message would be sent to the world if this student is allowed to continue at the Springer Memorial School? Did she apply afore time to be placed in the sixth form of another school? Would the mother’s demand to this effect not place her daughter in a isolated position in another school? Are others of her family members supporting her in this matter or is it only her mother? Where is her father? Grandmother? Is this another “myrie” case in the making? May Yahoveh Elohim open the understanding of all persons involved in this matter and may may judgement not be fled to brutish beast and cause all persons lose their reason.

  8. bertbin February 13, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Evidently this child behaves the same way at home. This situation could have been deescalated if the mother would have acted the way a mother should. Sometimes we as parents get too caught up in being friends to our children instead of being parents. May reasoning and good sense prevail.

  9. bertbin February 13, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    It’s evident that this girl displays the same behavior at home and gets away with it. This situation could have been de-escalated. As parents we sometimes get caught up in being our kids friends instead of being parents. May good reasoning and good judgement prevail.

  10. Tony Waterman February 14, 2016 at 1:25 am

    @Minimusclecat Howard!!!!! therefore in your opinion the Mother of this Child, has handled this situation Perfectly ??? if your answer is yes, then that could be a great reason why we are having things like these taking up Valuable time.

    @maxjutina!!! you are surely asking a load of questions.
    it began when a group of Girls were congregated in one spot and one of then dropped a Candy wrapper on the ground where they were standing, when they were accosted by a Teacher all the other girls dispersed except this particular one, and she was asked to pick up the wrapper, she refused and RUDELY asserted that she was not sent School to pick up Garbage, the Principal was called and got the same treatment from the Pupil.

    “What would have caused the student to behave in such a defensive manner? She either did drop the wrapper, or knew who did.

    “Does the issue of respect of figures in authority come into perspective here?” yes it does

    “Was this child raised by real Barbadian parents?” What does that have to do with the price of tea in China, they are a lot of Real Barbadian Children Raise by Real Barbadian Parents who are running around shooting Real People.

    the only persons here that are losing their reasoning, is the Mother, The Lawyer, The Social worker and anyone who is offering those Fools any support, i am solidly behind the Principal.

    Just Remember: if you don’t stand for SOMETHING, you will surely fall for everything. and i hope the the Principal stands TALL.on this one.

    Did she feel some measure of resentment towards the one who instructed her to take up the wrapper?” it appears that is so

    • Catherine Sandiford February 14, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Every time I see a response to this article, I cannot believe it is still going on. The bottom line is that a child should not be forced to give up being educated because of their refusal to pick up a piece of trash (especially if no-one can tell me that she dropped it). Obedience and Respect for Authority are one thing (we are all taught that), but there are other ways to discipline children without hurting them.

      The children in Barbados need CXCs, and many of them, to get a good job in Barbados. This is not the time to putting a fourth former at a disadvantage as far as her future goes. She will be out of school before you know it, and what will the results of this horrible and what I consider to be an unnecessary experience? My first response when hearing about this incident was “Can’t they find another way to teach this child a lesson?” I thought the child was younger and was seen dropping the trash.

      If the school is this strict about trash, then this lesson has already been learned by the time the student reaches fourth form. You cannot ask anyone to pick up a piece of trash that they did not drop unless you are asking them nicely or cannot do it yourself. All schools have Janitors, and the Janitor at Ellerslie and the Principals at Ellerslie promoted clean surroundings. I don’t see why it would be different at other schools.

      We need to ask the right questions, find out where the underlying animosity is coming from between the student, parent and authority figures. This is going on too long and the child needs to return to the current school immediately with a tutor provided so that she can get caught up for her exams.

      There is no reason why educated officials cannot solve this problem while the child is in school. Ellerslie is a great school and the Motto is “Make Wise Use of Your Time”. Can we do that please?

  11. Tamie February 14, 2016 at 8:31 am

    This seems to be something personal. No one can speak to the circumstances under which she was asked to pick up this wrapper. Furthermore, some principals and teachers like to abuse power simply because of the role. They love to make examples even where examples are not needed whilst some students could be so rude and disrespectful and unnecessarily so. What ever the story is, I believe that as heads, finding reasonable and practical solutions to what ever problem that arises is very important. These leaders failed to do so but rather, arbitrarily prohibited this CHILD from entering the school’s premises. This type of punishment was totally disproportionate to what she was actually being punished for. All the tuition she would have missed out on, I believe there should be some sort of compensation because CXC’s are just around the corner. Not to mention that if she were at home not attending school for some unjustifiable reason, law would have stepped in to punish who ever kept her home ( because Minors are to be in school right?) The double standards.

  12. missdolittle February 14, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Proverbs 22:15 – Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

    imagine listening to these word’s as a teacher. “my mother ain’ send me to school to pick up garbage.’ Can anyone see anger and rage coming from this child?
    My understanding is that there is more in mortar than in the pestle. If the mother went to the school with rage she is wrong. Two wrongs can’t make a right. Nobody knows what the child went home and tell the mother. Only God can give answers, so the relevant parties have to tap in to the source. Speak the truth in love. so be it.

  13. missdolittle February 14, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Principles and teachers alike from all schools – “STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT” Parents must have the understanding that teachers are 98% present with their children than them.


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