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Parents protest to remove school bully

Published: 
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Parents of pupils attending Santa Rita RC School during their protest yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

A father broke down in tears during a protest at the Santa Rita RC School yesterday, as he recalled how his seven-year-old son was punched in the stomach by a school bully.

Members of the school’s Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and students of the school protested in front of the school’s gates calling on the Ministry of Education to intervene, as they said the bully is out of control and terrorising other students.

They are calling on the ministry to remove the child, a nine-year-old Standard Two student, or they will not allow their children to attend classes.

“He was abused by this boy with one hard cuff to his belly, I don’t know what else could have happened to my son...I don’t want it to happen again,” the father said.

“We are doing everything the legal way but we need something to happen here, we are not going to take this any longer.”

Choked with emotion, the father pleaded for an intervention by Education Minister Anthony Garcia.

“This child came to the school in 2015 and since then these kind of incidents started happening, there are teachers being abused, he is beating up children and this cannot continue to stand.”

Another parent said her daughter was followed by the boy who made suggestive statements to her and asked her to be his girlfriend. President of the school’s PTA, Savitri Persad said this was not the first time parents have called for his removal from the school.

“We did a protest on behalf of children in this school in 2015 and the Ministry of Education told us they put things in place for this child—counselling, guidance officer, teachers, everything you could think about, this child got it,” Persad said.

“But apparently what we are seeing is this is not working, the Ministry of Education sent a special teacher to tutor this child and the child beat him up twice.”

Persad said two children who were attacked were transferred out of the school by their parents.

“A child was almost choked to death and another one got stabbed with a pencil, these children were transferred out of the school. We don’t want this to keep happening in our school—to the Minister of Education, please come down to Santa Rita RC School in San Pedro, pay us a visit and see what is going on with this child.”

In response, Garcia, speaking to reporters at the Mayaro Secondary School, said he could not “see” a primary school student behaving in such a manner. Garcia said he would not be visiting the school as he cannot be expected to “out every fire.

“We cannot go to every school that has a problem, we have student support for that and there are many chairs with respect to that division and we leave it up to the professionals to handle it,” he said.

“I cannot be expected, nor Minister Dr (Lovell) Francis can’t be expected to go to every school and attempt to out every fire, we have competent people in the Ministry of Education to do that.”

He passed questions to Chief Education Officer (CEO) Harrilal Seecharan, who said he was aware of issues at the school which are being dealt with by the Student Support Services Division.

“We are aware of the situation, there is a process that one must go through when dealing with students, that particular student has been transferred from another school but is currently receiving counselling and guidance from our student support services division,” Seecharan said.

“If we are to remove a student from school, it would be based on their recommendation. Our information at this point is that they are working with this student and removal at this point may be premature.”

Seecharan said the child has been referred to clinical and behavioural psychologists in the division and a recommendation has been made for a full-time aide for the child.