The principal of a primary school in Rio Claro has been suspended after reportedly striking a standard three pupil so hard his handprint could be seen on the boy's face. The Teaching Service Commission (TSC) suspended the principal last Thursday pending further investigations. However, the principal, who is nearing retirement, could face further disciplinary charges from the Education Ministry, as well as criminal charges, as the matter has been reported to the police.
The incident is said to have occurred during the last week of last term, before the Easter vacation. Reports say a teacher sent the child to the principal's office and during the time he was there he was slapped in the face.The child's mother was in the school at the time and when she saw the handprint on her son's face, she immediately took him to the Rio Claro Health Centre, then reported the incident to the police.
Photos were taken of the injury and the medical and police reports and statements were sent to the school supervisor in the South Eastern education district. They were subsequently passed on to the ministry and TSC, which found there was sufficient evidence to suspend the principal.An official from the ministry yesterday said the ministry has a policy of no corporal punishment against students, and the principal, who has faced similar challenges in the past, had clearly flouted that rule.The official said after the TSC ruling, the ministry will now have to appoint an investigating officer of a superior rank to gather evidence, including statements from the child, parent, principal and teachers at the school, to determine if there is sufficient evidence for the TSC to lay disciplinary charges against the principal.
Contacted yesterday, T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) general secretary Peter Wilson said he was not aware of the incident. He said that such incidents were very rare in the teaching service.Wilson said the union also represents principals, but he did not know if the principal in this case was a member. He said once a member requested representation, TTUTA will accede.
Meanwhile, the father of the child said yesterday that he would prefer the process takes its course. Failing this, he said, some other action will be taken."And the process seems to be working so far," he said.He said the police had not yet contacted him or his wife to say if any criminal proceedings would be taken against the principal.Asked if his son was an errant child, the father responded, "He is no angel."
He explained that circumstances warranted his son's being sent to the principal's office on the day in question and also led to the parents being called to the school.Pointing out the case in which a ten-year-old boy from a Tabaquite school was charged with assault and remanded to the St Michael's School for Boys on Tuesday, the father said: "As a parent we have to do what we can to make the world a better place. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is okay, because we would not be helping him or the world."