Members of the San Fernando Methodist primary school pta were caught off-guard yesterday, when an official of the school who was charged for sexual molestation of a student, turned up at the compound to resume duties.
PTA president Darren Medford accused the Ministry of Education of acting in bad faith and coming like, ‘a thief in the night’ to reinstate the official to normal duties despite protests last week by parents who had then heard, he might be returning to the school.
Medford said the School Supervisor II for county Victoria Education District, called protesting parents into a meeting last Tuesday following a placard protest, and asked them to hold their hands to allow the ministry time to engage the Methodist Primary School Board.
“They promised to communicate their position with me before any decision was taken. That was never done,” Medford said. Yesterday, “like a thief in the night”, he said, the previously suspended teacher showed up at the school. Some parents, Medford said, opted to take their children back home.
“This is an indication of the level of disrespect the Ministry has for us. You called me into a meeting, asked me to act in good faith but then you did not act in good faith by communicating your position to me. You don’t just come like a thief in the night and drop this upon us.
That is not acceptable, it is unprofessional,” Medford said.
The PTA executive was scheduled to meet last night to discuss their next move now that the school official is back on duty.
There was talk last night of a wholesale shutdown of the school, with not one child attending, if Education Minister Anthony Garcia does not accede to the PTA’s call for the decision to reinstate the school official to full duty to be revoked.
Medford promised one thing, if the official is allowed by the ministry to work at the school, “we will intensify our protest and take it to the doorsteps of the Ministry in Port of Spain.”
The PTA said they are acting on the general consensus of parents that this official is not welcomed because of the sexual molestation charge that once hung over his head.
The charge was recently discontinued in the San Fernando Magistrates Court after the alleged victim, who is a United States citizen, was a no-show when the case began. Medford said that after the molestation, the child who was 13 at the time, opted to go back to the US to live.
“We believe in innocent until proven guilty but the case was not decided on evidence coming before the courts. He got off on a technicality in that the child is not in the country. So there is still a cloud hanging over his head as far as we are concerned. Parents are on edge,” Medford said.
“I don’t know if the Ministry really wants 210 students and their parents protesting in front of their doorsteps,” he warned. TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai yesterday denied a claim that teachers also walked out when the official turned up for work.
“I want to confirm that after speaking with the staff representative, teachers did not walk off or leave the school compound.
Some parents upon hearing the official had returned, removed their children from the school, but school was not dismissed prematurely,” Doodhai said in a telephone interview.