They may have a legal leg on which to stand, but parents of displaced Alma Parris students today appeared reluctant to take attorney-at-law David Comissiong’s advice on how they should respond to the school’s sudden closure.
Following the recent announcement, Comissiong stated over the weekend that “it is totally ridiculous and unacceptable that in 21st century Barbados a Government minister and/or a Government ministry could believe that they are entitled to make a decision that so fundamentally impacts on a class of citizens of the country, and that they are under no obligation to consult those citizens.
“Not only is this backward, ‘stone age’ thinking, but it is also in conflict with the law of Barbados, and should therefore be rigorously challenged, even if it means having to go to the law courts,” Comissiong said in a statement issued on Saturday.
However, speaking to Barbados TODAY this morning following a meeting with officials at the Ministry of Education’s Constitution Road, St Michael headquarters, most parents appeared to have accepted the school’s fate, with some even praising the efforts of the authorities to find new placements for the students.
This was a totally different tune to the one sung by another group of parents last Thursday as they exited the ministry after receiving their allocation letters for the students to attend Grantley Adams, Darryl Jordan and St George Secondary schools.
At the time, many parents had openly expressed their dismay over the sudden closure of the St Peter based institution, which caters to students with learning disabilities. They had also heavily criticized the ministry’s decision to take those Alma Parris students who were 16 years or older out of the secondary school system and to place them in skills training programmes at the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB) and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP).
However, Lisa Greene and her partner Earnest Linton told Barbados TODAY this morning that rather than making a fuss, parents should be grateful that their children are still in school.
The couple’s 15-year-old twins will be attending St George Secondary School in September, when the new school term begins. And though disappointed that they were not placed at Parkinson, which is close to their Pine, St Michael home, the parents said they understood the situation and were prepared to face facts.
“I would like the parents to accept the situation that is going on right now, because at least the ministry is trying to help us. If they weren’t trying to help us, . . . my sons are 15 and they could have just left them outside,” the father said.
Dismissing Comissiong’s comments that the parents of Alma Parris, which catered for over 100 students but only had 60 students on roll, should take the ministry to the law courts, Linton said: “Why should you take legal action? I think the ministry is trying their best. . . . If they aren’t trying to help them, they wouldn’t do what they are doing.”
The couple also said that they failed to understand why parents were so shocked by the closure announcement since it had been rumoured for four years now.
While agreeing that the ministry handled the closure poorly, Andrea Kirton also chastised those parents who attended last Thursday’s meeting.
“They [ministry] are still finding places to put the children, they didn’t leave them abandoned. These are children that really can’t write their names, so they are helping them, putting them in places that they can do skills and sending them back to schools. They didn’t leave them on the streets to handle guns,” said Kirton, whose son will be attending BTVB.
“I ain’t complaining, instead of straying about the place, going and handle drugs . . . they go and learn something because the drug lords looking for those little boys that haven’t learned, that [are] slow learners, to go and put guns in their hands. So I am still glad they handled it this way,” she told Barbados TODAY.