THE CIRCUMSTANCES surrounding the confrontation which took place at the Ste Madeleine Secondary School must be thoroughly investigated and if initial reports are corroborated, the parent involved must be made to feel the full brunt of the law. Not only must the Ministry of Education ascertain what happened on Tuesday afternoon at the school, but the police must be called in to examine whether a criminal offence occurred.
We are deeply disturbed by the report that a parent, armed with a piece of wood, accosted a pregnant teacher on the compound of the school. It matters not what has been claimed by the student at the centre of the dispute. Violence in any form and at any forum is unacceptable, more so in the case of parents who demonstrate complete disregard for the sanctity of the school where their children are being groomed to take their place responsibly in society. It is ironic that this incident was reported on a day in which there continued to be reflection globally on school violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting. Not only do schools have to grapple with the potential for violence from students, but parents as well.
We have been witness to some disturbing tendencies and the outcome of this latest incident must serve as an example that this country is not prepared to tolerate that type of hooliganism.
In this regard also, serious questions must be asked about the security arrangements at the school. Several aspects of what has been reported are deeply distressing. Firstly, how was a parent able to reach administrative areas of the school reserved for teachers? Secondly, how was that parent able to do so while armed with a piece of wood? Thirdly, why was no action taken by security officials in relation to the parent once the alarm was raised?
It cannot be the case that anybody can walk into a school armed with a piece of wood and then walk out. Memories of the traumatic incident that took place a few months ago at the MIC Institute of Technology are still fresh.
Equally disturbing are the conflicting accounts of what transpired. A piece of wood being wielded as a weapon has been reported but it apparently did not draw the attention of security nor is it featured in official reports received by the ministry. An investigation must find the underlying cause of this.
In the meanwhile, however, the safety and security of students and teachers must be given the highest priority. Whether subject to armed assailants or not, people in school are vulnerable and need to be protected. All must err on the side of caution.
We continue to amplify our arguments about the role of teachers. Teachers are not glorified babysitters. They play a sacred role in fostering thought and furthering knowledge. While teachers must be held accountable, there are specific procedures in place to allow for complaints against them to be addressed. Parents cannot unilaterally and injudiciously take matters into their own hands.