The suspension of a fifth form Princes Town Secondary student for highlighting teacher absenteeism and early dismissal of school due to a faulty air conditioning unit, has sparked outrage from the public and politicians.
Facebook commentators say the five-day suspension instituted by his principal, during the first week of school, was unwarranted and called for the Ministry of Education to take action against the principal. The Ministry of Education has confirmed it is investigating the suspension and will also be providing assistance to the student through the student support unit of the ministry. “We have forwarded the posting and spoken to the school supervisor and they are interacting with the principal.”
However, officials said it is unlikely there will be any significant action taken against the principal based on the structure of the public service regulations.
The student whose identity is being protected, wrote on line, “The school is being dismissed at 11:30 am since the beginning of the term. That’s barely enough time to hand in homework and receive new assignments. How long will this go on for?”
United National Congress (UNC) Senator Khadijah Ameen in an online post questioned what he did wrong asking, “Did this post bring the school into disrepute? Did the student chastise the principal or teachers? What is the ‘offence’ here? This cannot be right. I am seeking guidance on this.”
She called for the reinstatement of the student and for the Minister of Education Anthony Garcia, to deal with the real problem of hundreds of students being deprived of an education due to no fault of their own.
The Ministry also confirmed that the child is back in school and that the principal and his parents are engaged in dealing with the situation.
President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodhai, who has been highlighting the problems at this school for a long time, said he did not want to rush to make any comments with respect to the suspension as he did not have all the details..
“What I can say is that this school has had some serious air condition issues going on for years and it needs to be fixed.”
He said the school was designed to operate with this central air condition unit which has been experiencing no shortage of problems. He said for the entire April to July term, classes were continuously disrupted resulting in teachers leaving school at 9 am almost on a daily basis.
Doodhai said because of this problem the school population has dwindled to about 400 students with a staff of about 50.
“Teaches complained of rashes on their skin, skin abrasions and even sought medical attention and received medical certificates attesting to that.”
He said it is his understanding that the ministry owes the contractor and the contractor is refusing to do any work unless he is paid.