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St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown takes action against student – parent files court action

St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown takes action against student  – parent files court action

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Teachers of the St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown (SJCK) walked off the job yesterday, apparently to protest the reinstatement of a student who had been transferred to another school.{{more}}

At about 10:30 Monday morning, teachers were seen leaving the school, following a meeting with a Ministry of Education official and an executive member of the school’s Parent Teacher Association.

Only the principal, one teacher and the administrative staff remained on the compound.

Up to press time, it was uncertain when, or under what conditions, the teachers would return to school.

The child, escorted by her mother, entered the school premises about 8 a.m., following which the teachers convened their meeting.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that at the end of the last school year, the student was given a letter of transfer from SJCK to another institution, although she had performed well in her academic work.

Jomo Thomas, the lawyer for the girl’s parent, told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday that an incident earlier this year led up to the situation reaching the stage it is at now.

“There was an incident back in March, and the child was disciplined; she was suspended for two days, and the child did an exam and got a zero for the exam.”

SEARCHLIGHT understands that the child wrote a comment about a teacher, considered to be very disrespectful, on work which had been submitted for assessment, after the teacher had commented that the child’s work was untidy.

“There were meetings: the parent, the child, the school officials, the parent, the child, the Ministry of Education officials, after which, the child returned to school all of the third term without incident. And then at the end of the term, the child selected the kind of classes she wanted; she selected science courses and she was placed in the science bracket,” Thomas said.

“She had properly done her work sufficiently to be promoted, and she got a report card that said she was promoted to form 4S, and she was also given a letter, which was not addressed to her or her mother; it was addressed to the principal of another school and the letter said that the child was transferred to his schoo;l and the child, because of the report card, which said that she should report to form 4S, showed up at the school at the beginning of the term and they refused to let her in.”

Thomas said the parent came to him, and the matter was filed for judicial review, and on Friday, September 20, the court ordered that the student should return to school with immediate effect, until the final determination of the matter.

“That order was taken to the school, a copy of the order was given to the parent, and the parent and the child showed up this morning and once they showed up, the principal evidently did not allow the child to go to the class and our information is that they had a series of meetings, after which the teachers were said to leave the compound.”

SEARCHLIGHT independently observed that the parent and child came to the school just before 8 a.m., then entered what appeared to be the school’s office. A short while later, the parent and child emerged and went to a gazebo on the compound, where they remained for the rest of the school day.

Thomas came to the area at about 8:55 a.m., spoke briefly with the parent just outside the school gates, then left. Soon after, a senior education officer arrived and met with the teachers and president of the PTA for about 90 minutes. After the meeting, teachers were seen walking and driving away from the compound, ending work for the day.

Teachers refused to speak to SEARCHLIGHT as they left the compound, but SEARCHLIGHT understands that the unsupervised students were told to remain in their classrooms and cooperate with the senior students.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that school was let out at 1:50 p.m., forty minutes earlier than usual.

It was only then that the girl and her mother also left the compound.

Thomas told SEARCHLIGHT that because the matter is currently in the court, he was not in a position to discuss the case. He, however, said the principal of the school, Camla Balcombe, could be in for some trouble, because of the action she took regarding the student.

“Based on what happened on Friday, where the judge ordered that the child should return to school until the matter is settled, the action of the principal, in my mind, amounts to a contempt of court, because the child was not allowed back into the class; it was a clear violation of the court’s order,” Thomas said.

Repeated attempts to reach Balcombe for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.

However, a source close to the school told SEARCHLIGHT that the child was never barred from going to her class, and on arrival, the parent was told she (the parent) was free to leave, but the child should stay. SEARCHLIGHT understands that the child was told to proceed to the school library; however she and her mother spent the entire day sitting outside, under the school’s gazebo.

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