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Applicant did not give full disclosure of all material facts – AG

Applicant did not give full disclosure of all material facts – AG

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The mother of the child at the centre of the St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown (SJCK) matter failed to acknowledge the defiance of her daughter, who, according to principal Calma Balcombe, had a history of disrespect at the SJCK.{{more}}

Balcombe’s claim was made in an affidavit which was read in court on Monday, by Attorney General Judith Jones Morgan, who represents Balcombe, the Ministry of Education, chief education officer Lou-anne Gilchrist, and senior education officer with responsibility for secondary schools Asfo Stephens.

Balcombe and the education officials have been taken to court by the mother of a 14-year-old girl who was transferred by the Ministry of Education from the SJCK to the Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia at the end of last term.

The education officials (the respondents) appeared before Justice Gertel Thom Monday, seeking to have set aside, an order made by Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle that the child be reinstated at the SJCK.

Jones-Morgan, in her submission, said several material facts were not disclosed by the applicant (the child’s mother), when she applied to the court for the child to be reinstated at the SJCK.

“When an ex-parte application is made to the court, there must be full disclosure of all material facts,” Jones-Morgan submitted.

On September 13, Justice Bruce-Lyle granted leave for judicial review to Jomo Thomas, counsel for the applicant, and on September 20, Bruce-Lyle ordered that the applicant’s daughter return to SJCK.

However, on Monday, following submissions by both sides, Justice Gertel Thom set aside Bruce-Lyle’s interim injunction and the child was ordered to attend the EHSM until the final determination of the substantive matter, the hearing of which begins on November 15.

As she read from Balcombe’s affidavit, Jones-Morgan said that in addition to not acknowledging her daughter’s disrespectful behaviour, the applicant was of the view that the teachers at the SJCK were targeting her child. According to Balcombe, the applicant said the child was also being pyschologically abused by the teachers, and she (the mother) was able to say so because she has a degree in Psychology.

According to Jones-Morgan, despite the applicant’s claim in her affidavit that her daughter was an “A” student, this was not so.

Balcombe’s affidavit also spoke of the child’s record of performance from 2010 to 2013. It was noted that the child came in for honourable mention while in Form 2S for her performance in Information Technology, but in October 2012, she was called up for dishonourable mention for conduct.

Balcombe’s affidavit also said the disrespectful note written by the applicant’s daughter was discovered on March 12, 2013. The principal said she asked to see the mother, but the woman never appeared or responded.

“This, My Lady, is of significance. The applicant states in her affidavit that it was as a result of the suspension that took place on March 13, that her daughter was going to be transferred out of SJCK school,” the Attorney General submitted.

Balcombe also said the day after the discovery of the note, she asked the applicant’s daughter to go to the library to await a letter to take to her mother, but instead, the student left the school’s compound.

Balcombe said the child left, even though she and another teacher spoke to her.

“I said to [the child], your choice is to go back to the library. If you choose to leave the school’s compound, you will not be walking back into the school.”

According to Balcombe’s affidavit, she met with the applicant on March 18, and since then, she has had no communication with the mother concerning the matter.

“It was clear at the end of the meeting [of March 18] that [the child] was to be transferred as a result of disrespectful and defiant behaviour displayed towards the teachers and me and this was conveyed to the applicant… The applicant’s response to the decision was ‘that’s all right’,” Balcombe’s affidavit read.

Senior education officer with responsibility for secondary schools Asfo Stephens, in his affidavit, said on July 11, 2013, the applicant and her daughter visited him at his office at the Ministry of Education. Stephens indicated that the purpose of the meeting was for the applicant to ascertain her daughter’s future. Stephens said during the course of the meeting, he invited deputy chief education officer Beverley Neptune to join them, because it appeared to him that the applicant was becoming aggressive.

“The applicant should have come to court with clean hands. An application for a without notice injunction must act in the utmost good faith… The applicant didn’t give any explanation for failure to disclose the aforementioned parts in her affidavit,” Jones-Morgan told the court.

Jones-Morgan also indicated that even after the incident in March, the student was taken to the principal because of her long finger nails and on that occasion, she “walked off” on Balcombe.

“The history of this child’s behaviour and her conduct during the time at the school was never set before the judge in the affidavit he received on September 10,” she added.

Deputy principal of SJCK Antoinette Bess-Jardine also filed an affidavit, which supported Balcombe’s claims.

In delivering her decision, Justice Thom said, having heard the submission on behalf of the applicant and the respondents and having reviewed documents filed in the matter, she was of the view that given the present state of affairs, it would be greater prejudice for the child to remain at the SJCK, than for the transfer to EHSM to take effect.

The judge said she reviewed all the documents and looked carefully at the affidavits that were filed by the child’s mother and when considered carefully, she found there was nothing in the affidavit which pointed her to any prejudice that the student would suffer if there was not a mandatory injunction for her to attend the St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown.

“It was not a situation where [the child] was being expelled from school and was not being afforded education. There was nothing to show me that her attending Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia, they were not offering the subjects for which she had signed up and that she would not get education at Emmanuel High School, which is attended by several hundred Vincentian students.

“There was nothing to show on the affidavits any prejudice whatsoever to [the child]. On the other hand, the affidavits, both from [the mother] and the respondents were showing that there was quite a rift between both sides. In those circumstances, I thought the least prejudice, pending the outcome of the substantive matter, would not be to grant an injunction. I didn’t see anything that she would have been prejudiced.

“It is in those circumstances that I discharge the order of Justice Bruce-Lyle,” she ruled.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that the child in question did not turn up for school at the EHSM on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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