Another side has emerged in the saga involving the alleged transfer of a student at the St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown (SJCK), which has led to a lawsuit.
A source familiar with the proceedings at the meeting of the Association of Secondary School Principals (ASSP) on Tuesday, said principals were told that contrary to reports, the student was never suspended or given a zero on a quiz.
The source, who requested anonymity due to not being authorised to speak to the media about the issue, said the student had a number of “yellow cards”, each representing a disciplinary infraction at the Catholic school.
The source said that in response to a written comment by her teacher that the student’s work was “untidy”, the student wrote that the work was as untidy as a certain part of the female teacher’s body that had not been washed for days.
“… the student has quite a number of yellow cards,” the source told I-Witness News, adding that the situation came to a point where it was no longer tolerable.
A “parental conference” involving the Ministry of Education (MOE), the principal of SJCK, Calma Balcombe, and the student’s parent was held, and a decision was reached to transfer the student to the Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia, the source said.
I-Witness News understands that the issue was discussed and a decision was reached to transfer the Student to Emmanuel Mespo, but that the transfer be deferred to the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, rather than in the middle of the last school year.
“That is why the school (SJCK) is so upset,” the source said of the school, where teachers walked out on Monday after the student turned up to class.
A court ordered last Friday that the student return to classes at the SJCK “with immediate effect”, until the disposal of a lawsuit filed by lawyer Jomo Thomas on behalf of the student’s mother.
The source told I-Witness News that in keeping with the agreement reached in March, the student was, in July, given a report card and a letter of transfer addressed to the principal of Emmanuel Mespo.
“She is technically a student of the Emmanuel High School Mespo, having been transferred there in July,” the source told I-Witness News, adding that transfers do not take place without the approval of the MOE.
“When the teachers turned up and saw the child, given the history and knowing how the matter was resolved, they became upset and walked off the job,” the source said.
“People need to ask why would people in a school that is normally so conservative … just get up and walk off the job,” the source further told I-Witness News.
The source further said that while some educators have questions about the MOE’s transfer policy, the SJCK is a private institution and can determine if they want they child there or not.
The source said that transfers are generally made to protect the remaining students.
Asked about consideration for protecting students at the school to which a student is being transferred, the source said: “That is a topic for another story.”
The source told I-Witness News that transfers have included moving a student with “homosexual tendencies” from a same-sex school to a co-ed institution and transferring to another school a student who had struck a teacher.
“When the thing is so grave, it is difficult to have the child and the teacher on the same compound. We are dealing with human beings,” the source said of the physical assault on the teacher.
Meanwhile, the Principals Association, in a release issued Wednesday, said that the administrators of all secondary schools in the country “have expressed their firm support of the procedures followed by Ms. Calma Balcombe, Principal of the St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown in her interaction with a former student of the SJCK”.
The release further said that the principals “unanimously agree” that Balcombe took “the requisite disciplinary action in response to the student’s misconduct”.
The association further said it is “satisfied” that Balcombe “appropriately informed the student’s parent of the decisions taken in response to the student’s unacceptable behaviour”.