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Student shuts down Secondary School

Student shuts down Secondary School

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What the teachers’ union this week failed to do, a fourth former did – shut down the St Clair Dacon Secondary School.{{more}}

According to reports, at around 9 a.m. last Tuesday morning, the 18-year-old student and his mother stormed the school and demanded that the student’s black Motorola Razr cellular phone be returned to him.

The phone had been confiscated a couple weeks ago by the young man’s English teacher, after it rang in class.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that teachers were thrown into a state of shock as the boy verbally abused members of staff, rummaged through teachers’ desks in the staff room for close to three minutes, searching for the phone – insisting that there would be dire consequences if the phone was not returned.

“He said that he wanted his phone and was not leaving without it, otherwise something was going to happen,” one teacher told SEARCHLIGHT.

When he did not find the phone, the angry young man marched down to the classroom where his English teacher, Lou-Anne Thomas, a veteran of 23 years, was having class, blocked the entrance and demanded his phone from her.

“It was frightening,” Thomas said.

She said that a male teacher, fearing for her life, came to the classroom to protect her.

The boy’s mother, eyewitnesses said, was a willing participant in her son’s actions, and unleashed her own share of verbal abuse.

The Stubbs police and the Ministry of Education were contacted.

When the Stubbs police didn’t respond in a timely manner, Deputy Chief Education Officer Luis deShong told SEARCHLIGHT that he made a call to Assistant Commissioner of Police Lenroy Brewster, who dispatched the officers to the school.

School principal Beverly-Ann Jacobs told SEARCHLIGHT that she was instructed by the Deputy Chief Education Officer to hand the phone over to the police so that they could give it to the student’s mother and escort both of them off the compound.

“When a child is ill-disciplined, you send for parents and they take weeks to show up, and sometimes don’t show up, but when their children make a complaint they reach to the school,” the principal lamented.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that 26 of the school’s 29 teachers reported to school despite calls for an indefinite strike by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) in protest of the government’s handling of the implementation of the R2 phase of the reclassification exercise.

However, after the incident, the teachers felt unsafe and went home. Things returned to normal on Wednesday.

When SEARCHLIGHT spoke to a shaken up Thomas, she explained what transpired with the phone.

She said that it was the policy of the school that cellular phones should not go off in class. If they ring, they are confiscated by the teacher and returned to the student at the end of the school term.

Thomas said that during the first week of school, some students’ phones rang in class and she took them and returned them to the students at the end of the week.

“I told them that the first week was the grace week,” she said.

A couple weeks ago, the phone belonging to the student in question rang, and it was confiscated, one of four phones that were in Thomas’ possession to be returned at the end of the term.

When SEARCHLIGHT contacted deShong at the Ministry of Education, he expressed his disgust at what had transpired at the school.

He said that the boy and his mother even visited him at his office and “I sent them packing.”

deShong said that he has advised the principal to send the young man immediately on indefinite suspension and that close consideration would be given by the Chief Education Officer to his eventual exclusion.

Meanwhile, Stubbs police told SEARCHLIGHT that the matter is being investigated to see if any criminal charges should be laid on the boy and his mother.

And very soon, the St Clair Dacon Secondary School, formerly the Carapan Secondary School, will not be so accessible to the general public.

After numerous complaints by members of staff, Principal Jacobs told SEARCHLIGHT that she has been assured by the Ministry of Education that the school will soon be adequately enclosed using funds from the Basic Needs Trust Fund. (KJ)

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