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Dr J.P Eustace Memorial Secondary lad injured with scissors

Dr J.P Eustace Memorial Secondary lad injured with scissors

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President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) Joy Matthews is calling on the Government to beef up security at all schools here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Matthews’ call came on the heels of a stabbing incident which occurred at the Dr J.P Eustace Memorial Secondary School on Thursday, November 6, leaving one student injured and the other facing a wounding charge and suspended from school pending the outcome of his court matter.

Although details surrounding the incident are still somewhat sketchy, information reaching Searchlight is that at about 7:45 a.m., before the bell rang, Javel Richards, 17, of Largo Heights, and Kentish Mason, 18, of Ottley Hall, got involved in an argument in a classroom, and Richards was stabbed on the right side of his back with a pair of scissors. He was rushed to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where he was diagnosed with a punctured lung. He was released after five days.

Mason appeared at the Serious Offences Court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the charge. A 14-year-old student of the same school, who was also involved in the altercation, was charged with common assault. He pleaded not guilty. Both students were granted bail in the sum of $800 and are expected back in court in February 9, 2009.

Matthews was of the view that more regular patrols should be done by officers of the Special Services Unit and the Rapid Response Unit (Black Squad) instead of the “On the beat” police officers. She mentioned that the SVGTU has already held one consultation on violence in schools, but sees the need for more to be done. “We need to have counselors in schools, more conflict resolution and regular searches at the school gates during the morning, recess and lunch intervals,” Matthews remarked. She noted that whatever happens in society is reflected in schools. “I think the problem is that we react too much. Instead we need to be proactive and do something about this trend, she said.

Meanwhile, a source in the Ministry of Education who did not wish to be identified told Searchlight that not all schools around the country have security officers. The source said that the St Clair Dacon Secondary School has one police officer and two security guards on watch all day because of circumstances peculiar to that school.

The source said that police officers are also stationed at schools with large populations such as the St. Vincent Grammar School and the Girls’ High School. Some other schools, the source said, hire private security guards.

The Dr. J.P. Eustace Memorial Secondary School made the headlines as recently as last week when two female teachers there had a fist fight.

When contacted, Chief Education Officer Susan Dougan declined to comment on the stabbing matter. Principal of the school, Descima Hamilton, also offered no comment.

In September 2007, senior police officer Superintendent Ellsworth Hackshaw was assigned to the Ministry of Education to examine the level of security in schools and to develop a security plan. Efforts to reach Hackshaw on Wednesday evening for comment on the current situation proved futile.

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