TEACHERS at the La Romaine Secondary school staged a sit-in on Tuesday after a dean was assaulted by a form four female student, who is still attending classes.
The teachers said the girl, who has been involved in several infractions in the past, assaulted the dean last Wednesday, but has been coming to school and attending classes as normal.
The incident was reported to the San Fernando Police Station and to the Ministry of Education.
This is one of two violent incidents engaging the attention of Education Minister Anthony Garcia.
The other incident allegedly occurred at the Mayaro Government Primary School on Monday, where a Standard Four student, described as “a troubled child,” attacked a teacher.
Garcia reiterated that violence would not be tolerated but said the welfare of the children must be paramount and efforts must be made to rehabilitate them.
In La Romaine, teachers told Newsday that the code of conduct mandates that if a child is engaged in any infraction in which a teacher is injured or assaulted, that child should be suspended pending an investigation. This was not done.
Staff said last Wednesday the child verbally assaulted and physically attacked the dean who had to seek medical attention. Yet, they said, the child was allowed to attend school on Thursday, Friday and Monday. On Tuesday when she appeared, they said they got upset because the principal had not yet addressed the teachers or the assembly on the incident.
On the advice of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), teachers left their classrooms and staged a sit-in in the staffroom. They also confronted the principal, who said the matter was under investigation. He later addressed the student body and dismissed school at 1.30 pm.
Teachers say they feel unsafe because this is not the first violent incident involving this student inside or outside the school. They claim she was caught on camera throwing a scratch bomb in a store in San Fernando, but nothing happened to her. They said her mother had also visited the school on many occasions and “misbehaved.”
Teachers said a school supervisor met with the principal on Tuesday, but they do not know what she was told.
A member of staff said, “There is supposed to be a zero-tolerance policy on violence, but in this school, children could get away with murder. When no action is taken, badly behaved students believe they could do us what they want and get away with it.”
At the Mayaro school, Garcia said the ministry was aware of the difficulties being experienced with this student, who has been moved from four other schools in the southeastern district over the years. The Student Support Services of the ministry are also assisting with the rehabilitation of the child.