Lawye
Lawyer Jomo Thomas. (IWN file photo)

A lawyer representing a student at the St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown (SJCK) and her mother says the principal of the school, Calma Balcombe, should be held in contempt of court.

The lawyer, Jomo Thomas, said that the court on Friday ordered that the 14-year-old student at the all-female school be allowed to attend classes until an existing matter involving the student is resolved.

But I-Witness News understands that teachers at the school walked out sometime after the student turned up for classes yesterday (Monday).

Thomas told I-Witness News yesterday that the matter was before the court and he could only give “bare-bone facts”.

But when probed, he said: “Basically, it had to do with the discipline of the child or the ill-discipline of the child. But I don’t think that particular point is relevant to the story at all. But if you understand what I am saying, the child was disciplined in the suspension and the refusal to give the child a grade.”

He said the court order on Friday arose from an incident in March, which led to the suspension of the student for two days and a zero being entered for a quiz (test) she took.

While he did not detail the incident, he said that it had “nothing to do with cheating”.

He said that after the incident in March, the student’s mother was called in and spoke with “the hierarchy” of the school and the Ministry of Education.

“The child was suspended for two days. The school, in its wisdom or non-wisdom decided to give the student zero grade for … a quiz which she had taken,” Thomas said.

He said the student returned to school for the third term “and there was absolutely no incident during the third term.

Thomas further told I-Witness News that the student took her exams, and was given a report card indicating that she was promoted to Form 4 Science.

The lawyer further said that the student was given a letter addressed to the principal of the Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia.

“… the letter was not addressed to her or her mother, but she (the student) was given a letter to take to her (the student’s) mother,” Thomas emphasised.

“And the letter essentially says: as per our conversation, this child was transferred to Emmanuel Mespo and we hope you would extend all the necessary courtesies,” he said.

Thomas said that the child’s mother came to him for legal advice.

“… and I told the mother that since the child has a report card that says she is promoted to Form 4S, St. Joseph’s Convent, she should take the child back to school on the day when school reopens.

“The mother took the child, the principal refused to allow the child to sit in the class and told the child that she is no longer at the school,” he explained.

He said that the mother then took the student to Ministry of Education and an official there told the mother that the child is no longer a student at SJCK.

Thomas said he then filed for judicial review.

That application was accepted and the court on Friday, ordered, among other things, that the child be returned to the St. Joseph’s Convent with immediate effect until the matter is resolved, Thomas said.

He said a copy of the court order was taken to the school and a copy was given to the student’s mother.

The child turned up to class Monday morning but the principal “refused to allow the child in the school,” Thomas said.

“From where I sit, that, to me, is a clear contempt of court because the order said the child should be returned to school with immediate effect until the matter is resolved,” he further stated.

He said he had heard about teachers walking out of the school on Monday after the student turned up.

“I heard about that, but that is strange… I don’t know how the other teachers got involved in the incident because this was a strict order from the court to the principal of the school.

“If anybody at all should have been told anything, and I don’t see any need for anybody to be told anything, it was the teacher who teaches Form 4S. That was no business of any other teacher,” Thomas said.

Thomas said that what was bad about the incident was that “because of the improper conduct of the hierarchy of that school, all of the students at that school lost the chance to be educated today”.

Regarding the next step, he said, “I think that the school is in contempt, the principal is in contempt and I would want to see the principal sanctioned.”

Asked about the type of sanctions he would like to see, Thomas said, “I can’t speak to that, sir. It is the court of law that could make those sanctions. If I were a judge I would tell you what I would have done but I am not a judge so I would not speculate.

“The proper course of action, if we are going to be a country of laws, a court issued an order, you get a lawyer … and make an application to the court and see if you can get the court to rescind the order. You can’t take it upon yourself to flout the order of the court. An order of the court, that is the status quo until that’s overturned,” Thomas said.

“If the matter is not resolved soon, we will have to take further legal action to ensure that the matter is resolved in the interest of our client,” he further told I-Witness News.

27 replies on “Lawyer wants principal ‘sanctioned’ over incident involving student”

  1. I agree that Ida court order was given, then the school is in contempt for not carrying it out. However, the student’s lawyer must understand that in some decisions regarding students, faculty is consulted since the Principal of a school is not the only person who is involved with the teaching of the student. Furthermore, after the decision has been taken that this particular girl is no longer to be a student of the school, some communication must be given to the faculty when she suddenly turns up for classes again (especially with permission to do so).

    We do not know all the facts, however, if it is a case of Ill-discipline, and depending on how severe, that might explain one reason why the teachers walked out.

  2. There we go, its started, he is already using his position and his political persuasion to fight his court battles. He should not be talking about this case, because like the school principal there is a procedure in law that he should follow. To publicise this matter may be seen as an attempt to influence the judges, an attempt to pre-empt the courts position and future ruling.

    We are supposed to be a country of laws, he himself states that, so let him follow the law and not believe himself above the law because of his new parliamentary position, its a disgrace.

  3. This is a prime example of why discipline have gone to the dogs in the school system and Jomo, to some extent, is contributing to that. I have worked in the education system in SVG so I can tell you first-hand, children test teachers to the brink of the cliff, some even push them over and the teachers’ hands are mostly tied. This child will not learn (discipline) because Jomo and her mother is strongly supporting her in what the school tried to discipline her for (there must be a valid reason).

  4. So Jomo, the great lawyer that he is supposed to be, decided to imitate an arsonist and throw fuel on the fire by telling the lady to take her child back to school. Why didn’t he go to the school to investigate the matter when the lady paid him her money? No – go back and ‘we go put dem in court’.
    So , is the court responsible for running our school system now? Has Jomo and the court officials lost their minds? This country is in serious trouble with the young people we have in the school system now(where discipline is concerned). If this is allowed to happen the way this mother and her lawyer want , the negative impact will be felt throughout the entire school system ( Primary and Secondary).
    Has this mother stopped to think what quality of education her child will get anywhere in the school system in SVG after she has chosen to go this route?
    I am very proud of Ms. Balcombe for her actions.
    “Keep looking out for the best interest of our girls Ms. Balcombe – keep them on the straight and narrow”, if you dont – I bet people like Jomo and this parent WILL NOT.

    1. are you saying that if a student stood up for his or her rights he or she will be denied a proper education in SVG? what a country!!!!!!

      1. Ricardo, you seem to misunderstand what is being said. I am not using a hypothetical situation. So, to say “if a student stands up for his or her rights…”. The only rights at stake here are the rights of the principal and school to manage the institution in a manner that allows them achieve their learning outcomes.
        My grandmother and many other grandmothers in SVG used to say ” Manners and behavior take you through the world” – not CSEC, GCE or CAPE, it’s not that they are not important but , in my mind the former is far more crucial than the latter.
        The SJCK has turned out exceptional students in all walks of life, so I think that they know a lot more about training young minds than the court.(look at what the court turns out – no disrespect to the court)
        Let us stop teaching our children that actions have no consequences, after all – rights go hand in hand with responsibilities.
        When people commit crimes, regardless of how sorry they are, they must face the consequences in court and perhaps jail. We can forgive them for what they have done but the consequences are still there. Perhaps if some of them learn it in school then they may not reach the court.

  5. For the lawyer to say that the principal “refused to allow the child in the school” is a lie, the child and the mother were seen by reporters and members of the public on the school compound and according to the searchlight newspaper the child and her parent were both invited to the school’s library. To say the child was not allowed in the school is definitely on trye. Therefore if the court order stated that the child should return to school and the principal clearly allowed her to be there, then really, she cannot be held in contempt of court.

    1. miss Gordon. the lawyer said the child was refused to enter her class. that’s what he meant don’t try to be stupid and funny

      1. LOL This Ricardo must be the child uncle jokes!

        The child was not denied access to her classroom in fact the child went to a classroom she was not on the register for obvious reasons and so the principal was called in to sort the matter out. The principal was trying to sort the matter out when the child and her mother refused to cooperate. You do not simply walk into a classroom after being absent for an extended period there is a protocol that all schools follow. You seem to be dwelling in the same cave as this mother and child. Cour order or no court order until the Principal was advised by the court or the Ministry for the safety of the students and teachers she had to get the facts straight.

        If the case of the pregnant child is the same case I know of the child was very much pregnant when she was asked to get a certificate. The certificate that was produced said she was not pregnant at the time she was examined which was long after the school had requested the certificate. If is the same student she is in another school and is very much a teen mother.

        To all those preaching forgiveness, even with forgiveness one must pay for one’s crime…furthermore how do you allow a child back into a convent who has not only disrespected the principal of the school but the church’s representative.

        Had the mother been wise enough to discipline her child she would not be now stuck in a battle she has to see to through to its shameful end. Even if this child is readmitted to the St. Joseph’s COnvent Kingstown the entire world now knows who she and her mother are. I hope that the father who ever he is would step in and get his child some help before it is too late. She must have at least one right thinking parent.

  6. Shanique Bailey says:

    Is Mr. Thomas in his right mind ??? A secondary school does not operate in such a way that one teacher teaches one class for the entire day there are multiple teachers at least 8 who may go to one class in a day therefore all of the staff will need to be informed ! And beyond that It is a STAFF What affects one will affect the rest irregardless of the situation! If there was a threat to one teacher must it be kept secret !!! Mr Thomas Honestly I thought you were more learned than that!!!!!

  7. I am not sure why folks are getting on Jomo’s case…he is only doing his job as the legal representative of the parent and student. I am not sure if the parent, exhaust all avenues with the MOE to resolve this problem but its unfortunate that such an issue is being litigated.

    Now, if the court says that the kid should go back to her original school…then I don’t understand why the school should refuse the student. Clearly, whatever the issue with this student, the Principal of St Josephs, figured she was teachable and sufficiently reformed to be offloaded to another school. So, one has to ask, what has this student done to so offend, that she is persona non grate at this SJCK? And if the student’s “crime” is so serious to have teachers allegedly walking out of the classroom…then shouldn’t this student be given an expulsion rather than being transferred to another school? I would hate to think that the teachers at SJCK are some impulsive bunch, ready to abandon their duties on a whim.

    Again not having all the facts at hand…but from what is being said here…I think the student is being punished too harshly for her “crime”…she was suspended for two days and given zero for an exam…that was not sufficient of a punishment? Moving from Kingstown Convent to Mespo Emmanuel is not on the same level of prestige…not to slight Emmanuel but it is what it is…I would be pissed if I was a student moving from Convent to Emmanuel…and if I were a parent, I would be fighting tooth and nail to make sure my kid get the best education possible and if in my mind, the SJCK provides the best possibility to achieve that objective, well damn it , I am going to courts to make that happen.

  8. Is this the senator Ralph just installed in parliament? Jomo sounds more like a criminal than a criminal lawyer. How could he instigate such an action? This could be seen as an affront to discipline and teachers through the entire nation. How else can students be disciplined, if not by the teachers who mold their lives? Is it any wonder that we have so many criminals roaming the streets of SVG, when people like JOMO start getting involved with school discipline?
    I hope Teachers Island wide will support the Convent. If it take a demonstration to do it, then so be it. Don’t allow this government and it’s puppets to take control of the schools. Otherwise your life will mean nothing and you would not have the stomach for the job.
    Stand up and tell Jomo, Ralph and his cohorts, “up their you know what….”.

  9. IN THE STORY IT WAS SAID THAT THIS CHILD WAS GIVEN A TRANSFER LETTER TO ANOTHER SCHOOL, SO WHY THE HELL WAS SHE STILL SHOWING UP AT SJCK…. AS A PAST STUDENT OF SJCK, IT HAD TO BE SOMETHING EXTREME THAT SHE DID TO CAUSE THE EXPULSION… THE FACULTY AND STAFF AT SJCK ARE ALWAYS VERY FORGIVEN… NO COURT SYSTEM SHOULD EVER BE INVOLVED IN A SCHOOL SYSTEM UNLESS ON THE GROUNDS OF ABUSE OF ANY KIND….. CONVENT IS KNOWN FOR ITS STRICTNESS, THATS WHY MY FAMILY CHOOSE TO SEND ME THERE… FOR THE COURT TO BE HANDING OUT ORDERS IS A SETUP FOR WATERING DOWN THE CODE OF DISCIPLINE…. THESE YOUNG PEOPLE OF TODAY NEED STRICTNESS TO PUT THEM BACK IN PLACE WHERE THEY NEED TO BE…. HOLD THE FORT MS.. BALCOMBE…DON’T GIVE IN TO PRESSURE AND SELL OUT OUR STANDARDS…FROM WHAT I SAW LIKE MOTHER LIKE DAUGHTER… IF THEY WERE RESPECTFUL, THEY WOULDN’T SHOW UP WHERE THEY NOT WANTED…LET THEM TAKE THEIR DISHONESTY AND GO WHERE IT TOLERATED, NOT ST.JOSEPH’S CONVENT…… I WILL PERSONALLY SEND A GREAT LAWYER TO DEFEND YOU, OR I WILL PAY YOUR COURT FEE…. THE BIBLE SAYS PROVE ALL THINGS AND HOLD FAST TO THE GOOD…STAND YOUR GROUND… YO AIN’T KILL NO BODY…

  10. I dont know the circumstance leading to this incident,but is there so much hate in sjck that they cant forgive this child? Unless she was selling cocain to other students i cant see why they cant be satisfied with her previous punishments and move on.That child must be going through hell,what are there intentions,to push her to suicide? Am sure other past students can relate to misbehaving in school,sometimes all the student needs a someone to talk too,provide counselling for her,dont deprive her of a decent education because of a mistake.no one is perfect and we are always to ready to throw others in the fire to burn,instead if giving them a chance ti redeem themself.

  11. everybody’s talking no body can say what the child did. so WHAT DID THE CHILD DO THAT IS SOOOO TERRIBLE? ALLL THESE SCHOOLS WITH FEMALE PRINCIPALS WHO CANT HAVE PICKNEYS OF THEIR OWN DONT KNOW HOW TO LOVE OTHER PEOPLE PICKNEYS AND HOW TO FORGIVE.. SO WHAT IS THE CHILDS UNPARDONABLE SIN?????

  12. HYGIANA MYERS, Anita, miss gordon(subtle) Shanique Bailey; damn y’ll are some heartless heathens on here..All of the “women” who commented on here with the exception of “erica” have thrown the kid under the bus, without the slightest of hesitation. And some of you have the gall to invoke the word of GOD but yet can’t find it within yourself to forgive a child? Lawd hav mercy!! I bet most of you have no kids of your own, cause y’ll sound pretty ignorant and intolerant.

    Let me get this straight, @PVPALMER…you will rather have teachers nation wide go on strike, just because of one student, who wants to remain at her school that she worked hard to get into? You want all other students across the country to be deprived of learning just because the courts say to allow this one kid to come back to her original school until things are sorted out? And you take such a position cause you feel Ralph taking control of the schools? Mr Palmer you are incorrigible.

    @Darrien, how severe a “crime” could the kid have committed, that warranted only two days suspension? In my estimation, the crime couldn’t be that severe if the kid only gets 2 days suspension. So yes all the facts of this case are still sketchy but teachers walking out of classrooms because of this kid, does not really commensurate with the punishment given to the kid. There seems to be some level of intolerance and overreaction on the part of the SJCK.

    Anyway, its quite disheartening to see the sheer lack of compassion for a kid, who only wants to remain at her school. I believe kids should be given more than a couple of chances to grow and learn from their mistakes. I think “erica” sums it up quite nicely, when she stated “.no one is perfect and we are always to ready to throw others in the fire to burn,instead if giving them a chance ti redeem themself”.

    SHAME ON ALL THE HEARTLESS HEATHENS AND POLITICAL GADFLIES ON HERE.

  13. It’s a reason the school is private and there is more than one school in the country, a reason none the other hundreds of students have been asked to leave.

    What’s next, she goes back, gets a grade on an exam that is deemed to be undeserving and then what, given detention and then what, back in the courts again? This should have been settled through the Ministry of Education. A new precedent has now been set, can’t get any better going forward.

    1. mike. the ministry of education is the worst of worst to deal with situations like this. I can tell you first hand, first foot first anything that the ministry of education is full of incompetent , braggadocious , pomptious ninkomppoops

  14. In my short life being a teacher at a secondary level institution was a very stressful and thankless job with limited pay. For eight to ten hours a day each teacher becomes a parent, protecting, caring and guiding our youngest. They accept the abuse sometimes physically, verbally and mentally from the kids at their institution that number in the hundreds.

    No one here knows the true story of what occurred last March, 2013 between the student and her teacher,that much is evident from the comments on this article.The student ‘s lawyer jumped around answering the question of the incident that precipitated the actions that has lead to a walk out of the teachers at SJCK. We can only gather that is was big and very bad since it has lead to the Ministry of Education stepping to help with a resolution.

    Read the statements of the lawyer who has cherry picked what he wanted the public to know while excluding anything that will cast his client in a negative light. This issue has blown up and has become very public with no one commenting on what has lead up to this point.

    I agree that with the lawyer, with a court order in place the young lady should return to school but the court order does not state they must teach her anything (just being technical).
    St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown has stood for excellence while operating on a limited budget in a poor country where some families cannot afford the books and cloths needed for attendance . They have offered so many women to the SVG’s workforce and the wider community. It is now seen as a great institution on para with GHS and SVGS, so it is sad to see the attacks being levied against it and it’s teachers over an issue that no one here seems to know anything fully about . Let’s find out what has caused the student to be removed from the school and I am sure you will see their actions are justified.

    The lawyer may continue to pull a veil over the eyes of the country, hiding what the student did to deserve her removal while claiming privacy rights but it’s him and the family who has decided to talk to the media giving a one sided account. Their actions has made it a public discussion and as such should be honest and share everything both good and bad.

    Finally, I am disgusted with many of my fellow Vincentians who have chosen to comment on this issue with disturbing rants and insults. While I commend them for sharing their points there is no need to be nasty to others who don’t share your point of view. It has become a common occurrence on topics like these and on anything that deals with politics. We can and should be civil with each other. Opposing ideas are the things that help our nation to grow.

  15. to all.. I know of a situation at [a school] where a female student was in the sick bay and some other students prankly rumoured that is pregnant she pregnant. [She] was suspended until she can show a doctors certificate. her mother got a certificate stating the student is not pregnant or sexually active. she went to the school to see the principal on several occasions. she was REFUSED AUDIENCE with the principal. that child had not been in school since. the matter had been refered to the MINISTRY OF EDUCATION they refused to assist in having the student placed in a school or reinstated at the [original school]. so who wants to talk sheet about teachers are caring and knows best better look closer and deeper. to all parents consider the Emmanuel Highschool as your school of choice for your kids forget about the SJCK and SJCM … all that glitter isn’t gold

  16. Teacherfang, you are probably the one without children. Now let me quote to you the Bible, if that’s what you want. “Don’t spare the rod and spoil the child”…it comes back to haunt the parent(s). Maybe you have never stood infront a classroom so you don’t know what goes on there as far as teachers/students are concerned. SJCK stand your ground; don’t let one student bring down the whole classroom or the school for that matter. If the student think she is above the teachers, let her teach herself.

  17. now I get to understand that the student work was commented upon by her teacher as being untidy and she responded by saying ” like your kittycat that has not been washed for three days” ….. now now now that’s the rudest pickney I can think of to say such a thing about her teacher. although I don’t think it deserved a transfer, I think it deserve a public apology. it is now in the public domain and a public apology by both the student and parent ( with jomo included) at heritage square is appropriate. jomo must wear the following words. ” forgive me for being such an idiot”

  18. I now see why SVG is such a sick society, with some folks who seem to think its ok to disrespect and abuse others and let things slide. Folks seem to accept abuse and disrespectful behavior towards women. Some even tolerate murder, especially to women who walk out of a relationship. No one wants to take responsibility and say, “I am wrong and I am sorry”.
    I wonder if the judge rebuked the child and told her to apologize. What the hell does the court or the judge know about the effect a reinstatement order will have on other children and SVG society? Is he right and all the other entities wrong? I don’t think so! The court should stay the hell out of this issue and leave it to the school, the education department, the parent and the head teacher.
    Why should the teachers and the school be held hostage by some judge; who would not tolerate any form of disrespect in his court? In SVG where legal issues take years to settle, this child could continue to behave is a disrespectful way, because she’s protected by the court.
    You know what? We should probably stop this discussion until we get a complete story of the issue. We seem to be attacking each other instead of the issue and that’s not helpful. I don’t believe we can convince others who don’t share our views on this issue, so the exercise is fruitless, until we have more facts to add to a positive debate.

  19. LOL This Ricardo must be the child uncle jokes!

    The child was not denied access to her classroom in fact the child went to a classroom she was not on the register for obvious reasons and so the principal was called in to sort the matter out. The principal was trying to sort the matter out when the child and her mother refused to cooperate. You do not simply walk into a classroom after being absent for an extended period there is a protocol that all schools follow. You seem to be dwelling in the same cave as this mother and child. Cour order or no court order until the Principal was advised by the court or the Ministry for the safety of the students and teachers she had to get the facts straight.

    If the case of the pregnant child is the same case I know of the child was very much pregnant when she was asked to get a certificate. The certificate that was produced said she was not pregnant at the time she was examined which was long after the school had requested the certificate. If is the same student she is in another school and is very much a teen mother.

    To all those preaching forgiveness, even with forgiveness one must pay for one’s crime…furthermore how do you allow a child back into a convent who has not only disrespected the principal of the school but the church’s representative.

    Had the mother been wise enough to discipline her child she would not be now stuck in a battle she has to see to through to its shameful end. Even if this child is readmitted to the St. Joseph’s COnvent Kingstown the entire world now knows who she and her mother are. I hope that the father who ever he is would step in and get his child some help before it is too late. She must have at least one right thinking parent.

Comments are closed.