Child rights advocate Shelly Ross wants the Ellerslie Secondary School teacher who was allegedly kicked by a third form student removed from her position.
Ross, an open critic of Principal Pauline Benjamin of Springer Memorial Secondary School during the recent controversy surrounding a student’s refusal to pick up a wrapper, alleged that it was the Ellerslie teacher who attacked the child.
The issue sparked much public debate after the pupil was reported to have spat on and kicked the teacher in her genitals.
The teachers’ unions have demanded the student’s expulsion, but her mother has been reported as saying her daughter was not the aggressor.
Based on this assertion and discussions with both the student and her mother, Ross has concluded that the teacher ought to be reassigned away from the classroom.
“I believe given what I have heard, what I know, concerns about this teacher, I think it is best if she was put in a ministry or something. But I don’t think she should be in front of children; she is not a good example for children,” argued Ross in an interview with Barbados TODAY.
She said the student spoke of having made several reports to school officials about previous incidents with the teacher, and that it was the educator who provoked her on the day of the incident, forcing the teenager to defend herself.
Seemingly accepting the student’s version of the events, the activist accused the teacher of unprofessional behaviour and contended that she had lost the respect of the school.
“As I have said before several times, our children must be able to go to school comfortable, knowing that they are safe, they could express themselves and they must be treated with respect.
“I don’t think that happened on that day. Speaking to the mother, I think she was concerned for the respect for children at the school. I am concerned for the respect for children in all schools,” Ross said.
The Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union and Barbados Union of Teachers, both of which have called for the teenager’s expulsion, did not escape Ross’ wrath as she accused the two unions of seeking to “create war”.
“How could you call for the expulsion of anybody without looking at facts of information? And they didn’t have any; they had a one-sided story from a teacher.
“To me that was the height of immaturity. These people in these unions are teachers themselves who are supposed to be in charge of these children and should be setting examples,” she said.
Ross congratulated Minister of Education Ronald Jones who has called for a thorough investigation before action was taken, and praised Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite for expressing similar sentiments.
However, she contrasted Jones’ position with the stance he adopted during the Springer controversy, saying he might have learned his lesson.
“Seeing that he has possibly learnt a lesson I would congratulate him because that is what I thought he should have done with the Springer issue. But this is only April and we have had two young girls already traumatized in secondary schools in Barbados and that is definitely a no no. I saw that little girl [Ellerslie student] cry yesterday. I have seen the [former] Springer girl crying,” Ross said.
Barbados TODAY has made multiple attempts since last week to contact the Ellerslie student’s mother, but they have proved futile.