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.