Stay away from students
By AZARD ALI Thursday, July 5 2012
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BACK TO SCHOOL: Acting Cpl Rampaul Dhansingh speaks to a woman yesterday at the Happy Hill Hindu Primary School, Gasparillo. Dhansingh visited the sch...
THE teacher at the centre of a spitting scandal at the Happy Hill Hindu Primary School in Gasparillo was yesterday interviewed by a policeman who later warned her to adhere to a directive from the Education Ministry to not teach her Standard II class and stay away from the students pending the outcome of investigations.
The teacher who stands accused of not only spitting on schoolboy Daniel Blucher last week Thursday, but also of other acts of abuse to other students, has denied any wrongdoing and in fact alleged that while she teaches, students hurl objects including erasers and rulers.
The spitting incident is the latest in a series of alleged wrongful acts perpetrated by the teacher against her students over the past 18 months. Angry parents of students attending the school held a meeting with school officials on Tuesday to discuss the conduct of the teacher.
The police, the Education ministry, the Teaching Service Commission and the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) — the latter being the administrative body for this school — are currently investigating the conduct of this teacher.
According to Bulcher’s mother Ashanti Bovell, during an interview with Newsday on Tuesday, last week Thursday Daniel’s teacher placed a box of food on top of his mathematics test paper which was on his desk. When he complained that gravy had smeared the paper, the teacher spat on Daniel’s face. The incident was witnessed by other pupils in Daniel’s Standard Two classroom.
Newsday understands that Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of South Trinidad, Fitzroy Fredericks instructed the Gasparillo police to get involved to investigate the alleged spitting incident. Three reports against this teacher, have been lodged at the police station.
Newsday understands that when she reported for work yesterday, the teacher was called to the office of principal Chanadai Maharaj and told of a directive from the Education Ministry that she (the teacher) desist from teaching her Standard II class and to stay away from the students. Acting Corporal Rampaul Dhansingh visited the school which is located two miles from the police station and at 2 pm, he first spoke to principal Maharaj.
Thirty-five minutes later, he was introduced to the teacher by the principal.
Dhansingh conducted an interview with the teacher in the lobby area. The teacher reportedly denied ever spitting on schoolboy Blucher and instead told Cpl Dhansingh that some pupils were in the habit of throwing erasers and rulers at her while she is teaching.
After Dhansingh spoke to the teacher, he warned her that she must follow the instructions of Maharaj and not to go to the classroom to teach, until further notice.
Approached by Newsday for a comment after the police officer left the school’s compound, Maharaj said she had been instructed by officials in the ministry not to speak about the latest developments regarding the incident.
The teacher remained in the lobby area until 3.15 pm when the bell rang and classes ended for the day.
Dhansingh later yesterday visited Bovell at her workplace in Marabella and recorded a statement from her about the incident. “The police officer took a statement from me,” she said.
“He asked to speak to my son Daniel and I told him that because the teacher made threatening remarks to him the day after she spat on him, I decided to send him abroad for two months until the start of the new school term in September, by which time I am hoping this teacher will not be at that school,” Bovell told Newsday yesterday.
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh confirmed he is aware of the issue and that he has discussed it with the Chief Education Officer in the ministry. “The Chief Education Officer is here and he is on top of it. The permanent secretary and the legal team and all those involved are dealing with this.
“As I indicated to the population, we are moving swiftly and strongly with correcting the systems within the school that we will have less and less deviant behaviour and less disfunctionality. Remember we are also constrained by the Teaching Service Commission (which is charged with investigating and disciplining teachers),” Gopeesingh said.
First vice-president of the TT Unified Teachers’ Association Devanand Sinanan expressed concern yesterday about the teacher being told not to teach her Standard II class.
“What is she supposed to do, just stand there? We will be looking into this matter,” Sinanan said.