Ministry, child unit probe beating of Stacy’s son at school

A sin­gle moth­er is call­ing for a teacher who bru­tal­ly beat her ten-year-old son with a piece of wood to be fired and face crim­i­nal charges. “My son has al­ready been through so much. I can­not be­lieve this hap­pen,” lament­ed moth­er Sta­cy Valasquez.

The in­ci­dent, which oc­curred at St David's RC School last Fri­day, is be­ing in­ves­ti­gat­ed by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and the Child Pro­tec­tion Unit.

The moth­er and son were high­light­ed in the T&T Guardian last No­vem­ber when they were liv­ing in a pavil­ion at the bas­ket­ball court at Bayshore, Mara­bel­la.

Mus­lims of T&T in­ter­vened and found them a tem­po­rary home, an apart­ment at Kel­ly Vil­lage, Ca­roni.

The group found a job for Valasquez at the Forestry Di­vi­sion and was al­so in­stru­men­tal in get­ting her son reg­is­tered at the school at Kel­ly Vil­lage.

“He start­ed school when school start­ed back in Jan­u­ary. So, we both now re­al­ly start to set­tle down and now this hap­pens,” said Valasquez in an in­ter­view yes­ter­day.

She re­called last Fri­day, about lunchtime, the prin­ci­pal called her. “She said ‘mum­my, please don’t be afraid.’ She told me that a teacher beat him bad­ly and I need to come.”

Valasquez said noth­ing pre­pared her for what she saw. “I did not ex­pect that. I could tell my son was cry­ing. He looked up­set and like if he was feel­ing sick.” He was limp­ing and in pain. She was told that her son was beat­en be­cause he shoved a fe­male class­mate. Valasquez, how­ev­er, said her son had been hav­ing a hard time in school be­cause the chil­dren were teas­ing and taunt­ing him.

“They call­ing him va­grant and do­ing him oth­er things. I don’t know if he did the girl any­thing, but he has been com­plain­ing that that girl was dig­ging him.” She said an­oth­er child threw a snake on him.

Valasquez claimed the teacher struck her son with the piece of wood in the class­room and in the pres­ence of the oth­er chil­dren.

“My child fell on the ground with all the pain be­cause he get the lash­es on the back of his thighs. He was drag­ging be­cause he could not stand up. The prin­ci­pal came and had to lift him up and take him to the of­fice,” she said.

Valasquez said she took her son to the St He­le­na Health Cen­tre and then to Ca­roni Po­lice Sta­tion where she made a re­port.

She said, “The the first thing they did was to take pho­tos of his legs.”

Valasquez said the teacher tried to speak to her, but she re­fused to give him an au­di­ence. “My son has a lot of pain. He can­not sleep prop­er­ly. He groan­ing in pain. He has to sleep on his bel­ly. His legs have large red and blue-black marks and it bruised. No mat­ter what, my child did not de­serve this. This is not right,” Valasquez said

She has been con­tact­ed by the CPU. “I want jus­tice for my son. And I want this teacher to be fired be­cause what if this hap­pens again. You can­not treat peo­ple chil­dren like this. I don’t want this to be swept un­der the car­pet,” she said.

She said her son is afraid and em­bar­rassed to re­turn to the school. A min­istry of­fi­cial said the school su­per­vi­sion unit has al­ready in­ter­viewed the rel­e­vant peo­ple and a re­port was sub­mit­ted to the head of­fice.

“That re­port has been passed on the In­dus­tri­al Re­la­tions De­part­ment of the min­istry. That de­part­ment will ex­am­ine the re­port and based on the find­ings they will de­ter­mine whether the teacher will cease to re­port for du­ty pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

How­ev­er, it is the Teach­ing Ser­vice Com­mis­sion that de­ter­mines whether a teacher is fired. The min­istry, the of­fi­cial added, has a ze­ro-tol­er­ance pol­i­cy against cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment in schools and it is al­so against the law.

Stu­dent Sup­port Ser­vices Di­vi­sion will be pro­vid­ing coun­selling and guid­ance ses­sions to the child, his moth­er, and his class­mates if nec­es­sary, the of­fi­cial said.

- by Sascha Wilson. Photo by Rishi Ragoonath.

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