The case involving an Ellerslie school teacher, who was allegedly kicked in her vagina and spat on by one of her students last month, now appears destined for the law courts after the teacher got some much needed vindication in the form of a school board’s report.
Barbados TODAY understands that the teacher is currently pursuing her legal options with a view to taking the appropriate court action, in light of recent “damaging” statements made by the student’s mother and child advocate Shelly Ross, which were carried in a front page story in the Nation newspaper on April 20.
The embattled publishing house, which earlier this week was forced to make a public apology after wide condemnation for trivializing an alleged rape case, is also being called to account for publishing “untruths”, including those to do with the police investigation into the April 13 incident.
One source, who is close to the teacher, said in addition to her physical bruises, she has been made to suffer tremendous mental anguish, as well as loss of reputation owing to what the source described as “deliberate attempts to paint her in a very bad light”.
The source has therefore poured cold water on the possibility of the teacher, who remains on sick leave following the incident, ever returning to the Ellerslie classroom, as the experience serves as a harsh reminder of the ugliest episode of her entire teaching career.
The latest development also comes as the student awaits word on a transfer from the Black Rock, St Michael secondary school.
Yesterday, Ross refused to speak to Barbados TODAY on the matter while the girl’s mother could not be reached for comment.
However, the President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU), Mary Redman, reacted publicly to reports that the student, who has also been away from the classroom since the incident, was about to be transferred to another learning institution in keeping with a recommendation made by the school’s Board of Management.
“The BSTU is satisfied, as reported in the press, with the removal of the student from the school and did make the recommendation that given her history at the school and this latest incident, that she receives counselling,” Redman said.
However, she made it clear that her union had not received any official word from the Ministry of Education since it attended two disciplinary meetings on the Ellerslie incident back in May.
Nonetheless, Redman said she was very satisfied, based on the evidence of students who were in the classroom on the day of the incident, that there was no aggression on the part of the teacher.
In fact, she made it clear that there were no written or verbal reports made by the student against the teacher; that the student fell after kicking the teacher and that the teacher was not involved in any physical fight with the student which saw them ending up on the floor in any scuffle.
Redman, who had spoken out previously in defence of the teacher, also said “the student did assault and batter the teacher and displayed gross disrespect to her”.
In response to reports that the teacher would also be transferred following the confrontation, Redman saw this as the school’s Board’s interpretation of her “level of comfort at immediately returning to the classroom”.
However, she was adamant that all teachers, and not only the teacher at the centre of the Ellerslie attack, could benefit from training in order to cope with challenging children.
“I would venture to say that increasingly, given the reality of what is happening in too many of our schools, all teachers in the system need that training, and they also need training in self-defence as is done in some parts of the USA,” suggested the BSTU leader.
“Equally importantly, the students and the parents need to be sensitized with the code of discipline for the students so that it is clear to all what is expected of students in terms of respect, appropriate behaviour, and discipline in the classroom.
“I wish too that the media, parents and others in seeking advice on children’s rights and advocacy, would do so from persons qualified, trained and recognized in that area,” she said in an obvious reference to Ross, who has been vocal on the Ellerslie incident, as well as a previous matter which led to the expulsion of a student at the Springer Memorial School who refused a teacher’s order for her to pick up a wrapper.
“Opinions from self-appointed persons who may have their own agendas, have demonstrably prolonged and worsened the two most public recent incidents involving delinquent behaviour by students in our schools. Proper advice needs to come from people who can bring an informed and helpful perspective to the parties involved,” opined Redman.
Today, the President of the Barbados Union of Teacher Pedro Shepherd also expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the Ellerslie investigation, telling Barbados TODAY the BUT supported the position of the ministry and the school’s board of management for the student’s “expulsion” from Ellerslie.