Principal: Students can help discipline colleagues

A lighter moment: Commission counsel Milton Pierce and Jeff Broomes.

Principal of the Alexandra School, Jeff Broomes, today defended the establishment of a student court to help instill discipline at the school.

Broomes, responding to questions about the practice from senior counsel Milton Pierce and Commissioner Frederick Waterman when the Alexandra Commission of Enquiry met today, said he was within his rights under the Education Regulations to have such a measure in place.

He was giving his first day of evidence at the tribunal.

“I am not abdicating my responsibility,” he insisted. The principal, who confirmed during his testimony that he had told students and staff that he would not be like a policeman running after youngsters at the school to discipline them, said he was fulfilling his mandated responsibility to instill discipline at the St. Peter School.

He said the student court was one of the ways he had done so, and that this tribunal met once a week, meting out punishment in the form of lines to be written by the offenders.

All punishment, he explained, had to be sanctioned by assigned teacher Abena Williams initially, but ultimately by him.

“The students themselves, the prefects themselves and the student council members see more things happening than the teachers,” he noted.

“Do you think one student sitting in judgment of another student in equal age … that the offending pupil will take that as a sort of disciplinary action?” Pierce asked.

“Yes, absolutely yes … I feel children take corrections from each other quite easily. In terms of adults they may get a little vexatious,” Broomes responded. He told the commission that prior to the establishment of the court, he had invited chairman of the school’s board of management Keith Simmons, QC, a former magistrate, to speak to the students involved about taking evidence and how they should deal with infractions by their school mates. (SC)

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