PORT OF SPAIN – A teacher is being barred from entering the St Stephen’s Anglican Primary School by the Education Ministry following a protest by parents on Thursday over her bizarre behaviour.
Holding up placards which read, “This is a school, not an asylum,” and “Keep our children safe,” the parents said the teacher has been physically assaulting staff and students.
Angry parents vowed to forcefully remove the teacher themselves if she is ever seen in the school again and said they planned to take the matter to the United Nations if the government does not intervene now to protect the children.
The teacher has 20 years of service and parents are convinced she needs psychiatric help based on the bizarre behaviour she displays in the school.
PTA president Corinne Hunte said its been more than five years since the complaints started but nothing has been done and the teacher’s erratic behaviour has gotten worse.
“She wraps herself up from head to toe with leggings. She raises up her clothes in front of the children and she talks to herself. The children are afraid of her. When they see her coming they run,” Hunte revealed. She explained that the teachers and the principal have lodged complaints but the teacher does not listen to the principal and has slapped her colleagues on several occasions in the past.
“She is not assigned to a class but she puts herself on a chair between the First Year and Second Year students. If another teacher is absent, she takes over that class whether or not the principal wants her to,” Hunte added.
Rajesh Roopnarine claimed the teacher has an obsession with his son.
“She bought him gifts and sometimes she refuses to allow him to leave the classroom to be with his friends,” Roopnarine added.
On one occasion, the teacher wrapped up Roopnarine’s son with a scarf and refused to let him go, despite the pleading by the principal and staff to do so, Roopnarine added. His wife Aarifa Hosein said the teacher accused her of wanting to kill her own son.
“She yelled at me and said if my son dies it will be my fault. My son is asthmatic and even when he is feeling well, she tells him he has to stay with her,” she said.
Atini Cedeno also claimed her six-year-old niece was slapped by the teacher and slammed against a cupboard.
Another parent Lusha Jacob said, “I have been to the police station, the Ministry, the school supervisor and every authority. If that teacher interferes with my child, I am going to walk into that school and personally remove her and put her in a madhouse.”
Contacted for comment, Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis said the Ministry was aware of the situation and have been investigating.
“However in our system, the Ministry does not deal with the disciplining of teachers. That is the sole purview of the Teaching Service Commission, so the matter is being forwarded there for action,” he said.
He added, “We are asking for a cease to report on behalf of the teacher.”
Francis said the teacher once served with dedication.
“Some delicacy is required here. This is a teacher who has served for years who happens to be suffering from mental health issues. Some empathy is required though we understand the seriousness and clear danger involved,” Francis said.
But National Parent Teacher Association’s First Vice President Clarence Mendoza said if the government fails to act, the NPTA will contact the United Nations to report a violation of the rights of the children. He said he understood that the Teaching Service Commission was in charge of disciplining teachers but it was up to the Government to take action now to prevent injury and harm to the students.
Mendoza said the NPTA was giving the ministry three days to address the matter. (Guardian Media)