East La Penitence Primary teachers protesting abuse by parent

The teachers of East La Penitence Primary School have downed tools after a parent verbally abused two teachers as well as the headmistress and although the parent has apologized, the teachers want his children transferred from the school.

These children sat outside their school compound yesterday hoping for a change of heart by their teachers.
These children sat outside their school compound yesterday hoping for a change of heart by their teachers.

When this newspaper visited the school yesterday, its doors and gates were locked and the teachers as well as many children were sitting outside the compound.

While the matter is being investigated, Education Minister Shaik Baksh told Stabroek News yesterday that the ministry could not at this time accede to the teachers’ demand for a transfer for the children, adding that the children had nothing to do with the issue.

Baksh said he learnt that the parent had apologized and the teachers had accepted but subsequently had second thoughts. However he said the ministry is monitoring the situation.

Parents also joined the teachers in their protest
Parents also joined the teachers in their protest

Speaking with this newspaper yesterday, Coretta McDonald, a teacher, explained that the actions by her colleagues came after an incident last Friday. 

Meanwhile, the teachers as well as the Parent-Teachers Association are insisting that no work will be done until the ministry properly intervenes in the matter and transfers the man’s children.

She explained that last Friday a Grade One student mistakenly got on a bus which was being loaded with 25 students to go to the Church of God to receive a meal and be taught table etiquette.

According to her the child probably felt that the bus was taking students on a field trip and so joined the bus unknowing to her teacher. She said the parent probably did not see his child come home at the expected time and so called the school to find out where his child was.

The teacher who answered the telephone was unable to tell the man where his child was and further said she did not know the child. McDonald said even before the teacher had completed her last sentence the man started to verbally abuse her using expletives and disconnected the call.

In no time the man arrived at the school and approached a teacher who also said she did not know the child but suggested that the child may have been one among the set who had gone  to the church for the midday meal.

According to her the man started to use expletives and abusive language. She said the man in the same haste raced to the Headmistress’s Office and threatened her.

She told Stabroek News that the matter was reported to the department of education and the teachers decided that they did not want to have the man’s children in school for fear that he may return  at the slightest dissatisfaction over any matter.

Since the incident it was only on Wednesday that the teachers met with Principal Education Officer Chandrakala Ramsammy.

She said Ramsammy later turned up for another meeting and brought the parent with her who offered a public apology for his behaviour.

“We were intimidated by his presence  and we were fearful for our lives and so we did not want to challenge anything. He used his eyes to pinpoint every teacher who sat there,” she insisted.

She said Baksh has since promised to resolve the matter.

She lamented that the children had  to be transferred from another school because of the father’s behaviour, noting that it seemed to be his pattern in this regard.

Asked to say exactly what the teachers want McDonald said,

“We are asking that the children be transferred from here  because we are fearful for our lives if this man does this again.”

“We are not working with the children in school,” she added.

She believes however that the ministry has not placed enough emphasis on the issue, noting that if it were a situation where a teacher had flogged a child or the very children, its intervention would have been more vigorous.

The police had turned up to arrest the man but he had already left and up to now the man has not been held, she said.

Yesterday morning when this newspaper visited some parents stood outside. One woman whose son attends school there said she believes that the children should be transferred  even if that was the only justice the teachers should get. She said her son ran home saying that a man had come and wanted to shoot at everyone.

“It is unfair to the teachers and the children will not be able to focus since it was traumatic for those who witnessed the incident.  The teachers should protest until they get justice,” another parent said.

President of the Parent-Teachers Association Dianna Grimes was also on the scene and maintained that the ministry should move the children to another school.