Education Minister Anthony Garcia and top ministry officials will meet tomorrow to decide what action to take on the ‘clouting up’ situation at San Juan North Secondary where a school safety officer slapped two schoolboys to stop them from fighting, back in May.
Garcia told Newsday he received a report from the safety officer involved and the acting principal Cheryl Dyer, yesterday afternoon and will not rush to judgement on the actions of the safety officer, until he has a chance to properly study the reports.
The fight broke out shortly before lunchtime as the school safety officer was attending to parents who themselves, were querying the suspension of their charges. The fighting boys were surrounded by a crowd of children cheering them on and the noise was so great that it attracted the attention of the safety officer.
He left the parents he was dealing with and ran to the scene of the fight, pushing his way through the large crowd of students surrounding the fighters who by this time had been trading blows for about five to seven minutes. One of the boys had what appeared to be a metal object in his hand while the other was dipping his hands into his pockets as they grappled with each other.
According to reports, there were no teachers around at the time and the school safety officer was forced to take matters into his own hands. He called on the students to stop fighting but after his call was ignored, he hit each boy two clouts, whereupon they immediately let go of each other.
In an effort to get the boys to calm down, the school safety officer drew them away from the onlooking students to a quiet area of the compound where he lectured them about the dangers of violence and the need to control their anger, warning them firmly that he did not want any fighting at the school as he was responsible for maintaining order there.
After viewing footage of the fight, president of the National Parent Teacher Association Zena Ramatali said a thorough investigation is needed. Ramatali said it was very unfortunate and disappointing that a safety officer would resort to corporal punishment which, she said, is against the law. However, many commentators on social media supported the officer, with observations such as: “We need more like him. Hats off to you, sir.”