Wednesday 19 February, 2020

Suspension extended for students seen in school bullying video

Photo: Two Form Five students and one Form Four student of the Princes Town West Secondary School were seen on a viral video, in which one student was kicked repeatedly in the head on September 27, 2018. Education Minister Anthony Garcia said he will only seriously consider expulsion of the students responsible based on advice from his Ministry.

Photo: Two Form Five students and one Form Four student of the Princes Town West Secondary School were seen on a viral video, in which one student was kicked repeatedly in the head on September 27, 2018. Education Minister Anthony Garcia said he will only seriously consider expulsion of the students responsible based on advice from his Ministry.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia said two students who were allegedly seen beating and kicking another student in the head in a viral video last week, will have their suspensions extended and will be sent to a Learning Enhancement Centre for rehabilitation.

In a media briefing held at the Education Ministry’s Port of Spain head office on Monday, Garcia, along with Minister in the Education Ministry, Lovell Francis, the principal of Princes Town West Secondary School and the line supervisor, said he met with parents of the three students - two Form Four students and one Form Five student, who were involved in the incident.

Garcia said he has ordered the school principal to apply to extend the suspension of two students who were seen on the video.

“I have instructed the principal to apply for an extension to the suspension. I have also asked the principal to ensure they are enrolled in the Learning Enhancement Centres. In addition to that, we on this level will be sitting down to decide what we are going to do with respect to the consequences those students must face,” he said.

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Garcia said the student who was beaten was taken to hospital for treatment and was discharged on Friday night.

Garcia acknowledged that the incident might have some legal implications.

“We are treating this matter very seriously. We have reiterated over and over again that we will not tolerate indiscipline and violence in our schools. What happened at that school last Thursday has set us back. If one school is behaving in a way where its students are showing signs of indiscipline and violence, it must be a cause of great concern to us,” he said.

The Ministry suggested that following attendance at the Learning Enhancement Centre, the students might either be returned to the school, transferred to another school, or expelled.

Garcia said however that he would prioritise rehabilitation over expulsion at this point. 

“Apart from the fact that students have done something very wrong, we must also recognise that they are minors and they are children. Instead of just throwing them to the wolves, we will want to put things in place to ensure their rehabilitation so that they can become peaceful citizens in this country.

Garcia said as Minister he has the ‘ultimate option’ of expulsion but said it is a decision he would take 'very seriously', adding that he would not take that route without discussion with others in his Ministry.

Garcia said with reference to criminal charges that would be a matter for the police.

The matter was reported to the police and it is now in the hands of the police. That is not within our domain, the police would decide what course of action they want to take,” Garcia said.

He added however that there was no evidence of impending legal action against the Education Ministry.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Lovell Francis, said that the Ministry cannot tolerate that kind of behaviour, adding that he personally knows the parents of two children who were seen attacking the other student.

“What we all saw was a child on the ground, literally almost knocked unconscious, or almost unconscious, and students continuing to kick his head, continuing to attack him…this child could have died from that injury,” Lovell said.

Lovell said based on feedback from the parents of the students, they simply want the violent behaviour to end.

He added that he hopes the students who committed the attack understand the gravity of the situation.

 

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