GANG ON RAMPAGE
By Nalinee Seelal Friday, October 4 2013
A gang of male students went on a rampage attacking a teacher, security guard and female student at Cunupia Government Secondary School on Wednesday afternoon.
The students, four of whom are in Form Four, and the fifth, a 16-year-old in Form Five, have since been arrested and appeared before a Chaguanas magistrate yesterday charged with assaulting the teacher and security guard.
For almost 30 minutes, the gang terrified school officials and students, destroying a glass showcase in the principal’s office, pelting a teacher with an energy drink bottle, assaulting the teacher during a fight and also beating a security guard. A female student was struck and injured during the melee which erupted at about 2 pm, shortly before classes were due to end.
According to reports, the teacher, Raoul Harry, observed five male students cursing a security guard.
Harry intervened and asked the students to stop, but they turned on him and he was struck with a energy drink bottle.
The security guard rushed to help Harry but the students surrounded both of them and a scuffle ensued. Other teachers alerted by shouts of obscenities and screams went to the assistance of their colleague and the security guard but the students kept cursing and behaving unruly.
The principal, Vishnu Maharaj, and other teachers were able to pull the students away, but when they were taken to the principal’s office the students began pounding a showcase filled with trophies causing the glass to shatter.
At this time, PCs Paul and Ali were on mobile patrol in the area and responded to a report called in to Cunupia police, by a student via his cell phone. The officers were able to apprehend the five students, who were handcuffed and taken to the police station and their parents contacted.
The five boys were charged with using obscene language, resisting arrest, assaulting the teacher, assaulting a police officer (security guard), malicious damage and other charges. They spent the night at the police station after a senior officer instructed that they not be given any bail and were then taken to the Chaguanas Magistrates’ Court yesterday. When the five, still in their school uniforms, appeared before Magistrate Bramanand Dubay they were represented by two attorneys who asked the court to grant the school boys bail. Dubay sent the Form Five student, who is due to write the CSEC examination next year, to the Youth Training Centre (YTC) in Arouca and ordered that the four Four Form students be released into the custody of their parents, but probation reports must be made available to the court when they reappear on October 31.
Newsday understands the students pleaded guilty and were made to apologise to the security guard by the magistrate. It is expected that the five students are to be suspended from school pending the outcome of the court matters.
Members of the media were debarred by a policeman from entering the Second Court where the matter was being heard, saying the case was one which involved minors.
However, Head of the Central Division, Superintendent Johnny Abraham yesterday said he was disturbed on learning of the incident and noted Cunupia police have had a hard time in dealing with a gang of unruly students from the school where on almost a daily basis, reports of damage to school property, students being bullied and beaten and teachers feeling fearful are made.
He said, “How many times must we counsel them (unruly students), we are taking steps to prevent murder in that school. Beating a teacher is like beating your parents, the teachers are their parents from Monday to Friday and it is total disrespect, this will not be tolerated. We do not want what happened at Waterloo High School repeated here.”
On May 27, Form Three student Renaldo Dixon died in a stabbing attack at Waterloo High School, and another student has been charged with the murder.
Sources yesterday disclosed another fight broke out among students at Cunupia Secondary School compound but this was not reported to the police. Sources said there are rival gangs in the school engaging in illegal activities such as selling drugs, carrying weapons, slashing tyres of teachers cars and bullying students.
Newsday understands that all reports of indiscipline at the Cunupia school have been made to the Ministry of Education and several attempts were made to deal with the situation to no avail.
Several parents whose children attend the school told Newsday yesterday they have tried to have their children transferred to other schools because of the violence but had no success. Now they have to live with frustration not knowing if their children will be the next target of the rogue students.
The parents said they are willing to invest in providing additional security at the school for their children’s protection and they were seeking a meeting with officials at the Ministry of Education to discuss this proposal.
Efforts by Newsday to reach the principal and Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh were unsuccessful yesterday.
President of the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) Zena Ramathali yesterday said the reports about Cunupia Secondary should be thoroughly investigated. She said she supports the police in their anti-bullying campaign. “We will not tolerate assault on teachers or their peers on the school compound,” she said, adding the NPTA was also planning an anti-bullying campaign scheduled for November 16.