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Garcia: Suspension of Princes Town student unwarranted

Published: 
Monday, September 18, 2017
Minister of Education Anthony Garcia

Education Minister Anthony Garcia has admitted that the suspension of the student from the Princes Town East Secondary School (PTESS) earlier this month, following social media posts about the school’s short-comings was “unwarranted.”

This, after the Ministry of Education conducted an investigation into the matter and found there was no basis for the suspension.

Although the Form Four student has already served the five-day suspension which ran from September 4 to 8, Garcia assured, “It will be struck from the student’s file. There will be no lasting evidence of this on his academic record.”

Although he declined to say if the investigation’s findings could result in action being taken against the Ministry of Education, other senior officials said the incident could result in a possible lawsuit, as the enforced absence was contrary to the student’s right to an education.

Garcia yesterday confirmed the Form Four student had not done nothing wrong when he posted about the school’s air-conditioning system regularly breaking down on FaceBook.

The post, which was made at 6.50 pm on September 1, advised incoming students to the school to expect such occurrences regularly and also challenged the ministry to respond to the situation.

Confirming that, “Only a school principal had the power to effect a suspension,” Garcia said the ministry is supposed to be informed of any and all such happenings.

Pressed to say if he was not informed of suspensions prior to them being given, Garcia said no.

However, he added that as head of the ministry, he would have to be consulted regarding any requests for additional suspensions.

Stressing the Education Act clearly outlined the reasons which could result in a student’s suspension and acted as a guideline for principals, Garcia reminded, “The suspension of a student is to be only in circumstances where he/she is exhibiting gross misconduct which could result in injury to other students and teachers.”

Urging students to exercise vigilance when posting on social media, Garcia said he was aware that parents were now using their personal accounts to post about problems at their children’s schools, as they now feared their children could face similar consequences.