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Saturday 18 November 2017
Local

Protests continue against returning principal

Students of the San Fernando Methodist Primary School play in the school’s courtyard on Monday. The school’s PTA has called for a day of rest and reflection today in continued protest against the return of principal David Swain.

YVONNE WEBB

The Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the San Fernando Methodist Primary School, has declared today a day of rest and reflection for students and staff.

PTA president Darren Medford said the decision was taken by the PTA’s executive, which met on Monday evening to discuss the return of acting principal Swain David, who was freed of a charge of committing an act of sexual assault on a female student in November 2013.

Medford said students will return to school tomorrow but, the PTA will engage in a lunchtime protest outside the Mon Chagrin Street school.

Further action is being contemplated, pending the response of a letter the PTA has sent to Education Minister Anthony Garcia, outlining its position.

“Our position is that we do not want him at our school,” Medford said.

“The ministry claims that schools are supposed to be safe places and the principal is supposed to safeguard his charges. The PTA is of the opinion that the environment is not safe. We have asked for a meeting with Mr Garcia to let him know how we feel and we await a response before we take further action.”

The ministry’s decision last week that David should return to the principal’s chair on November 8 sparked two days of protest by the PTA. His reinstatement was delayed as the ministry asked for time to speak with the Methodist Primary School Board. His appearance on Monday, however, caught staff, students and their parents by surprise, as the ministry had promised to communicate with the PTA before his return.

Medford said the ministry’s failure to communicate the decision was an act of bad faith and acted like a thief in the night. He reiterated that while a person is innocent until proven guilty, the matter was aborted and not ventilated because the alleged victim migrated during the trial.

A November 2013 article published in the Newsday reported that David, 44 at that time, appeared before Senior Magistrate Annette Mc Kenzie who read the charge to him that he sexually molested the girl, who was then 13. David was arrested while teaching at the school and taken to the San Fernando Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where WPC Clement laid the charge. David is also a qualified guidance officer trained at the University of the West Indies and certified by the Ministry of Education.

Calls to Garcia and his communications officer for a response on the issue were not answered.

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