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Students, school officials expect to meet Mystar soon

Wednesday, March 26 2014

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FLASHBACK: Students of the Mucurapo West Secondary School during their fight on March 14 last outside their school. Students who were involved are sti...
FLASHBACK: Students of the Mucurapo West Secondary School during their fight on March 14 last outside their school. Students who were involved are sti...

The suspended students of Mucurapo West Secondary School, St James who were involved in a recent fight on Mucurapo Road near the school, are expected to have a meeting soon with Insp Wayne Mystar and school officials about bullying at school.

The fights, which occurred on March 14 between female students, were uploaded on social media websites and soon went viral. The brawl, which was triggered by the bullying of 13-year-old Netifa Skinner and Shania Fairdain, led to the suspension of ten female students, including the bullying victims.

Denise Fairdain, Shania’s mother, told Newsday she and her husband visited Mystar on Monday in order to complain about the bullying of their daughter, and to see if he could help “clean up the school.”

“It has been going on for so long, and even though we have made complaints at the school, nothing was done. Even if Shania does not go back to school there, we want it to be better for the other children,” said Denise.

She added that last Monday the principal sent Shania a letter saying that her suspension had been extended until their investigation was complete, or until the Ministry of Education contacted them.

“I don’t know what they want us to do, because our children are just home. Now we have to look at another avenue for their schooling like lessons, because they are losing school time,” she said.

Ministry of Education Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan said there had been initial investigations by school supervisors, and the Student Support Division, but the case conference was yet to be completed.

He confirmed the suspension of students could be extended until the completion of the case conference, and that the resulting recommendations could include an extension of suspensions, or the students could be reinstated with counselling and support from the Student Support Division.

Seecharan added that sessions with parents, students, teachers, school supervisors and guidance counsellors had taken place to discuss general indiscipline, and how such occurrences could be prevented in the future.

On Monday at a National Consultation session on Parenting in Education at the Rudranath Capildeo Learning Resource Centre (RCLRC), McBean Village, Couva, Minister of Education, Dr Tim Gopeesingh promised his Ministry would continue to do its best, to deal with school violence.

Gopeesingh said they would continue to implement various programmes and polices such as the implementation of school-based management, retraining of teachers on mediation and alternative dispute resolution, bringing parents into the system, and further staffing of the Student Support Services Division. He noted Cabinet recently approved the expansion of the Student Support Services Division — guidance officers and counsellors, and school social workers — to increase the staff to 732.

The increase in staff would allow one permanent guidance officer per secondary school. These officers would also visit primary schools, once or twice per week, in order to determine if there were any problems.

He noted there was a lack of trained and qualified school social workers and said the country’s tertiary education institutions were working to provide more graduates in that field.

Gopeesingh added that the Ministry was working to strengthen school-based management teams, and that all government secondary schools have an advisory board which would include the principal, three members of the national community, two representatives from the Parent Teacher Association, a representative from the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA), one member of the alumni, and a member of the student’s council.

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