THE teacher accused of verbal and physical abuse on students in a classroom at the Tranquillity Government Primary School has been formally suspended by the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), Education Minister Anthony Garcia confirmed yesterday.
At a press conference at the ministry in Port of Spain, Garcia said the teacher was issued a “cease to report for work” notice yesterday.
An investigation was launched after Newsday reported incidents of abuse - both physical and verbal - meted out to students by the teacher. She was secretly recorded on students’ cellphone voice notes which were shared with Newsday and also posted online to social media.
Garcia was unable to say if the teacher was suspended with pay but indicated the TSC will determine the disciplinary action, if she is found guilty. In one of the voice notes, the teacher is heard saying she hopes she gets suspended since she will still get her salary and when she comes off suspension she will retired with full pension.
“At this point, it is just allegations. And depending on the investigation, then the TSC can decide whether she can be suspended for a period of time, either with half pay or no pay, or whether she can be absolved of all allegations made and therefore be allowed to return to duty, or whether she can be dismissed,” Garcia said. In conducting preliminary investigations, statements were taken from students. “Signed statements by the students were made available to the investigating authorities and the supervisors’ division at the ministry,” the minister said. A report and results of the preliminary investigation were submitted to the permanent secretary, following which a letter was sent to the TSC.
This letter included 14 allegations brought against the teacher. The TSC has advised that the teacher was in breach of regulation 88 of public service commission regulations and as such issued a suspension notice. “The allegations are serious, and actions have to be taken. It is the duty of the TSC to conduct its investigations,” Garcia said. To assist with the enquiries, he said, the ministry has appointed a senior schools supervisor to generate a report within 21 days, from the date of suspension, to the TSC.
He added that students will not be neglected as this process unfolds and the necessary arrangements have been made to ensure there is minimal disruption. “A substitute teacher has already been assigned to the standard five class and the affected students are receiving the necessary counselling on a regular basis.”