Thursday 14 December, 2017

Siparia West Principal removed after confrontation with students

The principal of the Siparia West Secondary School has been removed after a video surfaced on social media depicting a confrontation between him and a group of students.

This is the latest in a string of videos which have surfaced, depicting violence at the school.

In the one minute and twenty-second video, students can be heard telling the principal to call the police with one student saying he wasn’t afraid.

The principal was then heard retorting to students who asked him whether he was “stupid” by stating that the student in particular’s father was stupid for being responsible for him being born.

A pupil in the background of the video was heard telling the Principal that he almost injured a student with a piece of iron. Another then approached the principal to enquire whether he was the source of a rumour that he had been selling drugs.

In response to the video which had gone viral on social media, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said he was deeply troubled. He said as a result of its content, steps were taken to have the principal removed.

“The video is very disturbing because it shows clearly that the students or some students have no respect or regard for the Principal. It tells me then that there is a complete breakdown of discipline in the school. What we have decided today was to remove the Principal from the school and we have asked the Principal to report to the district office. We have put in place a senior school supervisor who will oversee the operations at the school until things are settled.”

“We cannot allow this school or any other school, to be in such a state where terror almost reigns”.

Asked whether the principal’s removal from the school was for his protection or as a form of reprimand, the Minister said he did not hold the authority to take any disciplinary action against a principal.

“The teaching service commission is the only body that can take disciplinary action against a teacher, vice principal or principal. We have simply asked the Principal to remove himself from the school, in fact, not asked but we have demanded that he remove himself from the school and report to the District office in an effort to ensure that operations at the school are conducted in a condition or in a state where learning and education can take place without any major interruption.”

“I don’t want to pre-judge because you know how things are. Safely I can say at this point that we have removed the Principal from the school.”

Meanwhile, asked to respond to Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) President Lynsley Doodhai’s pronouncement that teachers weren’t required to supervise students before or after school and during breaks, Minister Garcia said on the contrary, he maintains that it is the duty of all those in authority at schools, to ensure the safety of students and themselves.

“Well if that is TTUTA’s position that is there position but who else will supervise the students? I have been on record as saying that the primary responsibility of the principal is to ensure the safety of the students and of course, that principal cannot do it alone. That principal or any principal will have to delegate part of those duties and responsibilities to other members of staff. If that is the stance that TTUTA wants to take well, I don’t know how far we are going with this but we insist that adequate measures must be put in place to ensure the safety of our students and our teachers.”

Yesterday TTUTA criticized Minister Garcia for his “hasty” response to three videos posted on social media which showed various incidents of violence at the Siparia West Secondary School.