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Union Island letter

A lawyer has written to Principal of the Union Island Secondary School (UISS), giving her until June 1, 2015 to rescind a decision barring a student from participating in the July 1, 2015 graduation ceremony and ball or face legal action.

Mathias M.K. Stewart’s letter of 26 May 2015 to principal Vernette Ollivierre was in response to an undated letter that she sent to the mother of the student, informing her that her daughter, a fifth form student, “would not be graduating with the class of 2015”.

“The school’s Graduation Policy, which is attached, stipulates that a graduating student should have living arrangement appropriate to a school child. Since this applies to her, [your daughter] would thus not participate in the ceremony or ball on the 1st July. She has also forfeited eligibility for any prizes or awards,” Ollivierre wrote in the letter.

She said that the student would be able to collect her school’s certificate from the main office at a cost of EC$30.

“She would also collect, when they are available, her CDC CSEC slip and certificate.

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“We wish [her] all the best in her future endeavors and success in her CDC CSEC exams,” the principal wrote.

The school’s “Graduation Policy” says that the criteria for graduating from the school are as follows:

Completion of ALL School Based Assessments for registered CSEC subject

Good conduct, punctuality and attendance

Living arrangements appropriate to a school child

Completion of UISS internal exams

Females must not be known to be pregnant at the time of graduation and must not have given birth during their tenure at school. Males must not be known to have a child or have impregnated a female during their tenure at school

Students must not be known to be convicted or any criminal act

The policy also said that a student who in the opinion of the school rules does not adequately satisfy the criteria will not be allowed to graduate and will not be eligible to receive prices and attend the ball.

It also says that parents/guardians of students who are not eligible to graduate will be informed by letter at least one month prior to graduation.

In his letter, Stewart said that this client did not violate the school’s graduation policy “as she is currently and has always been living with her parents at Clifton Inion Island in the Family Home.

“However, for the month of March 2015, my client and her parents stayed on a boat in Clifton harbour while their house was being repaired,“ the lawyer said.

“Further, your conclusion are baseless and the sanctions imposed upon my client are unjustified, and downright unjust,” he further said in the letter to the principal.

“You failed to indicate how you arrived at such a decision. There is no mention of any investigation into the matter by you or the Social Welfare Department located at Clifton Union Island or any visit to my client’s home to converse with her parents.

“My client is a fifth form student and will like to take part in the graduation ceremony and ball, and she is looking forward to receiving any prizes or awards which she may be entitled to.

“By this letter, you are hereby ordered to immediately rescind your unjustified decisions. If you hail to heed this warning by 1st June, 2015, I have been instructed to pursue this matter in a Court of Law where my client will see to be reinstated in the Graduating Class 2015 without notice,” Steward wrote

“So be warned!

“This is a formal letter before action and in no way affects my client’s other legal rights or privileges,” he said.

The student is one of several across the country who have been barred from participating in their schools’ graduation exercises for a number of reasons which vary from school to school.

I-Witness News was unsuccessful in its attempts to reach the Ministry of Education for comment on Thursday.

Repeated call to the relevant education official went unanswered as the line was busy.

One reply on “Lawyer writes principal after student is barred from graduation”

  1. TeacherFang says:

    First of all, this lawyer is full of BS. Lets say that this case is taken to court, who is to say a decision will be made by the time of the graduation. How long did it take for the Convent case to be heard in courts? Yeah right. Mr Mathias where did you get your law degree, Ms Muggy School? I think your letter is incredibly distasteful and unprofessional; “by this letter you are hereby ordered to immediately rescind?” On whose authority dumbarse? I have a sneaking suspicion, this letter is a HOAX, THIS LETTER MUST HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY A FIFTH GRADER. Really, who writes like this? This is not a judgement handed down by the courts, this is a mere letter and this fool is talking in this manner? Wow! Mr Mathias, is this your first letter you have written for a client? I suspect you must be the laughing stock of your colleagues at this moment.

    Secondly, the Principal of this school, deserves two bulwood and a half…what exactly are appropriate living conditions? My living conditions could be vastly removed from what my classmates are accustom to. I could be living in a mud hut or under a bridge or shacking up with “tuffhead”, but doing great in school…do you really want to deprive me of all the hard work I have done to get to the point of is this principal talking about? I don’t understand how your living conditions could be used against you after you have endured to the end. I think students should be commended for persevering through the hard times and reaching a milestone of graduating. The policies of the schools are mind-boggling to say the least.

    Speaking of policies, I totally disagree with students being ineligible to graduate because of a pregnancy. As a matter of fact, if a student got pregnant and even if her belly is showing around the time of her graduation, SHE SHOULD BE ALLOW TO PARTICIPATE IN HER GRADUATION…WE MUST STOP WITH THIS HOLY THAN THOU PURITANICAL ATTITUDE AND PEEP IN YOUR OWN F#$KING BOWL. A graduation is not about you and your morality crusade, this is about the STUDENTS WHO HAVE WORKED HARD TO GET TO THIS POINT…THE ONLY BARRIER TO A STUDENT GRADUATING SHOULD BE HIS OR HER LACK OF ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS;ANYTHING ELSE IS TOTAL BS.

    If I am the student and parents, I will take my case to the MOE. I don’t understand why the need for hiring such a dimwitted lawyer in the first place. It seems this is the modus operandi of parents these days, RUN TO A LAWYER TO RESOLVE SCHOOL ISSUES THAT ARE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE MOE TO HANDLE. WE ARE SETTING A BAD PRECEDENT WHERE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION IS CONCERNED. I think this is a hasty move on the part of the parents; let the MOE investigate the matter and then if not satisfied; you can seek other avenues for a resolution.

    I see the lawyer’s letter as dotish and the Principal’s actions as dotish as well. What we have here is a failure of COMMONSENSE AND THE INCREASING PRESENCE OF PURITANS RUNNING OUR SCHOOLS. Our young people no longer have the ability to exercise a sense of independence and freedom of expression. Our students are becoming robots within our schools, they simply regurgitate the bs that is fed to them by these Puritans and nothing more. Our students cannot show dissent or any resistance to the status quo;if they do, they are considered rude and disrespectful and are treated like members of ISIS ala Convent student…shun from civil society and left to the vultures to have their way with them. We need to rethink on how we treat our young people. The same so call rude student, maybe the next Barack Obama or Usain Bolt; the pregnant student maybe a next great doctor, who knows what the future holds for these kids…but treating them like the Taliban for trivial indiscretions, could well prevent them from achieving a great future.

    Lets hope for the sake of the student, that “all parties climb down from their respective crosses, take the wood to build a bridge and get over it”…Madame Principal let the student attend her graduation its one day; let the youth enjoy his or herself among their peers…I remember all my graduations it was the proudest day of my young life and so it is for many many graduating students.

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