The mother of a 14-year-old Springer Memorial student at the centre of a controversy over a wrapper has refused the offer to have the pupil transferred to Ellerslie Secondary School.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones revealed today that the pupil had been offered a transfer to Ellerslie, adding, “I hope the parent accepts the transfer”.
However, Elecia Weekes said she would have none of it, claiming her son, who attended that school, had a bad experience there in the past. Weekes also insists on being given a say in which school the daughter is transferred to. She has already turned down an offer to transfer the child to Daryll Jordan Secondary School.
Her rejection of the offer came on the day that Jones called for commonsense to prevail in the raging controversy over the student’s refusal to pick up a wrapper after she was asked to do so by a teacher.
“I do not know if it is sensible to keep pushing an envelope which says that ‘my child must go back there’ [to Springer Memorial]. The environment is already bloody,” said Jones, while lamenting that “a good school” had been brought into the limelight over what he considered to be an extremely simple matter.
The embattled student has reportedly been kept out of classes since the last school term with Principal Pauline Benjamin insisting on a course of discipline, which both the girl and her mother Elecia Weekes disagree with.
Today, Jones described the matter as “prolonged agony”, while noting that the parent was contending, based on legal advice, that she should take her daughter back to school.
He however pointed out that “you can be educated at any school in Barbados if you want to be educated. But the child should not be seen as a pawn, power struggle or in the games that you sometimes see being played out.
“I don’t know the parent. I have not met the parent, but if I had to offer advice, if part of your initial complaint was that the child was not being educated, your first option is to get that child into a classroom where productive learning is taking place,” the minister said.
He stressed that a student’s education was important, while warning that “there cannot be an undermining of the school by stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, leaders of the community”.
Jones, who believes the entire matter has been blown out of proportion, said: “I mean a piece of paper? This is absolutely remarkable that a piece of paper has now multiplied into something that everybody is focusing on and having comment on,
“I have picked up paper as a teacher and I didn’t put it there. I have taken the broom and swept my classroom as a teacher.”
The former teacher of 27 years also said he had seen instances where parents and grandparents had brought hostility to schools and years later, he had seen several of those children getting into trouble with the law because the right ethics and values of life were not instilled in them.
“I have seen it. I can call youngsters who have had to go to the Government Industrial School and then some of them migrated to the adult prison because families and parents show them a totally different direction which does not make sense. The children have been molded into certain levels of adult behaviour,” he said. (AH)