Principals are responsible for the safety of students in schools and can be disciplined for breaches, Education Minister Anthony Garcia warned yesterday.
The minister, who admitted that he is concerned about gaps in systems to address bullying in schools, was commenting about a recent incident in which a Standard Three pupil of the Munroe Road Government Primary School was attacked by a group of older schoolmates. The ten-year-old victim was beaten and dragged and suffered injuries to his stomach, legs, arms, head and face.
“The principal must ensure that students are supervised all the time,” said Garcia
Noting that the incident occurred because there was no supervision, he added: “Once the school’s discipline matrix is observed by all and the principal accepts responsibility for the safety of the school, there is no reason why it would happen if officials are present.”
He said the code of conduct for schools clearly outlines measures to deal with infractions committed by students. Disciplinary action can be taken against any principal found to be in breach, as was the case with a primary school principal who is currently on suspension, Garcia said.
“The charge against him was that he did not adequately ensure measures were in place for the supervision of students.” Garcia said, adding that principals have to account for how and why incidents occur. The safety of students and teachers should be their first priority.”
According to the minister, each school is supposed to develop its own discipline matrix in accordance with the code of conduct, and can develop other measures they believe are needed to address indiscipline.
Each school is supposed to have a four-member team comprising the principal, vice principal, and representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) and the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) to look at the overall discipline of the school, he said
He explained: “This team is supposed to come up with protocols that will allow the school to deal with any infractions on the part of persons attending the respective school.”
Depending on the nature of an incident, parents can be called in and discussions held with the aggrieved parties, while more severe acts of indiscipline can result in suspension.
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Anna-Lisa Paul)