Minister of Education Ronald Jones has joined the debate over yesterday’s violent incident at Ellerslie Secondary School, warning, “you can’t just expel” the student involved in the altercation.
The unions representing teachers, the Barbados Union of Teachers and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union have called for the immediate expulsion of the 13-year-old third form student accused of spitting at and kicking a teacher in her genitals.
The girl has been suspended, but Jones made it clear he would not be drawn into taking sides, and cautioned against a rush to judgment.
The minister said he was informed about the incident this morning, and insisted that the matter must be investigated thoroughly and the correct process must followed before action is taken.
“You can’t just expel…. Every child has a right to be heard and defend itself just as every teacher has a right to he heard and defend him or herself,” he declared.
Barbados TODAY understands the incident stemmed from an attempt by the teacher to verbally discipline the student, who was asked to step outside the classroom.
A person familiar with the teacher yesterday told Barbados TODAY that the educator had been forced to seek urgent medical attention.
He said the 42-year-old educator was so shaken following the incident that she was said to be contemplating not returning to the Black Rock, St Michael learning institution, which has reportedly been grappling with problems of illegal drugs and theft.
“I have had enough; something is wrong at that school,” said the irate spokesman for the teacher, who described the student involved as “troubled”.
Yesterday’s incident was not the first at the urban secondary school. Just recently, a student was reportedly suspended for one day after a teacher in her 50s was “pushed right down” and has since been sent on two years’ sick leave.
However, Jones said today that there was more than one side to a story and he levelled criticism at those he claimed paid too much attention to the negative action of a few students, while the positive was often ignored.
“So then you start hearing all of these claims, all of this portrayal as though we are in a war zone in our schools. We are not in a war zone in our schools.
“I spoke to one principal this morning in relation to something which I wasn’t aware about that happened yesterday and I am distressed really from many vantage points. We have to treat children as human beings generally across the system, we have to have children giving respect to our teachers, we have to have parents giving respect to our teachers, but we also have to have teachers giving respect to our parents and to our children. So sometimes these things are not easily explained because the school is a closed environment,” the minister said.
He reiterated that the matter must be handled properly and appropriate action would be taken following a detailed investigation. (SD)