... as teachers clamour for justice, following reported attack
The mother of a teenaged student, who is accused of kicking a female teacher in her vagina and spitting on her yesterday, has chosen to remain mum on the reported violent attack, which has so far led to her daughter’s suspension from the Government-run Ellerslie Secondary School.
When contacted this evening, the girl’s mother said she had no comment to make. Relatives who had contacted her on behalf of Barbados TODAY also said they were in the dark over the alleged incident.
However, police confirmed that a report had been made and that the minor had been brought into the Black Rock Police Station for questioning by an adult earlier today.
It was just after 10 o’clock this morning, when two police officers were seen entering the school compound to carry out their own investigations. About half an hour later, they exited the compound without offering any kind of comment to the media.
However, when contacted Public Relations Officer of the Royal Barbados Police Force, Acting Assistant Superintendent of Police David Welch told Barbados TODAY that up to 6 p.m. no one had been charged in connection with the alleged assault, with police investigations still ongoing.
This evening, Barbados TODAY also contacted Chairman of the School’s Board of Management Terrence Inniss, who said he was yet to receive a formal report.
“Nothing has yet come to the Board, but when it does, the Board will follow the necessary procedures and carry out the necessary investigations before any further decision is taken,” he said in a brief comment on the matter.
However, speaking to reporters following a three-hour meeting with the principal and other teachers at the Black Rock, St Michael institution this morning, both the President of the umbrella Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Pedro Shepherd and the head of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman were adamant that violence against teachers must not be condoned.
Therefore, Redman said, the BSTU would be writing to Inniss tonight, recommending the teenager’s expulsion, which she said was the remedy agreed upon by both unions.
The BSTU spokeswoman also said that Major Errol Brathwaite, the principal of Ellerslie, had understood, accepted, and demonstrated a commitment to zero tolerance to violence against teachers at the school.
“It is a united effort on all fronts to make sure that this is dealt with quickly, it is dealt with effectively and it sends a message not only to the students here, but to the students throughout the country and wider society, that this type of violence against teachers will not be tolerated,” she added.
And while throwing her full support behind the teacher, Redman revealed that BSTU and BUT would seek to bring greater national attention to the problem of violence against teachers, as well as the steps the unions intended to take to address the situation.
Barbados TODAY understands that yesterday’s incident stemmed from an attempt by the teacher to verbally discipline the student, who was asked to step outside the classroom.
However, the 42-year-old teacher was reportedly left both shaken and bruised, after the student responded violently to her, forcing her to seek immediate medical attention.
At that time, the teacher was also said to be contemplating not returning to the Black Rock, St Michael learning institution, as her spokesman complained about the slow response of school authorities on the day.
But while describing Wednesday’s incident as “unfortunate”, Major Brathwaite said the matter would be fully investigated. He also assured that decisions would be made in the best interest of both the students and staff.
Speaking to reporters today, the principal also warned that while a quality education must be delivered, it could not be done in a disruptive environment, but that every effort would be made to ensure the smooth continuity of the learning process at the institution.
“We are comfortable having had that discussion that we have agreed on the course of action to be taken and that is how we are going to proceed from here,” the principal said.
Meanwhile, Shepherd revealed that he had spoken with the teacher at the centre of the report last evening, as well as this morning, adding that she was still in pain following the incident.
“I believe that she has been reassured by the principal, deputy principal, members of staff and members of both unions that we are here for her. I believe with that moral boost that the teacher would be returning to school at some point to continue her job of teaching the nation’s children,” Shepherd said.
Following today’s talks with the school’s officials, the BUT head also assured that systems would be put in place to ensure that what transpired yesterday at Ellerslie did not happen again. However, Shepherd said there were other issues at the school that would be identified at a later date, following reports that theft and illegal drugs were among the pressing problems.