Students arrested with knives at school expelled

-parent calls for review

Some students who were arrested after they travelled on March 29 from the city to the Leonora Secondary School armed with knives have been expelled.

A parent of one student, of Queenstown Secondary School, is now calling for justice, saying that the drastic action taken against the students is criminalising them.

When Stabroek News contacted the Welfare Office within the Ministry of Education, a representative said that the students were expelled but the matter is being reviewed by higher authorities.

The parent said that she visited the school on the day after the March 29 incident, and parents and students were later summoned to a meeting at the Welfare Office. A subsequent meeting was held, where parents were informed that their students would be expelled and that their children would not be admitted to any government school.
Instead, the parent said, she was told that the children would be provided with tertiary education so they could learn a trade of some kind. A promise was made to parents that they would be contacted before the end of the Easter term to further discuss the arrangement, but the parent said she is yet to receive a call from the school.

She expressed her dissatisfaction, stating that the authorities are making criminals out of children by taking such drastic action against them. She believed that the children should have been provided an alternative punishment and those with potential should have been kept in school. “We don’t feel that this is just. Given that the children attended all the meetings and cooperated, they should’ve been able to assess them,” she noted.

The parent also related that she, along with other parents, made an attempt to see the Education Minister but they were referred to the Welfare Officer in charge of Secondary Schools. The parents said while the officer appreciated the fact that the parents were paying attention to the welfare of their children, their actions at the school amounted to a criminal offence and they were being used as an example to others. She said the officer failed to follow up with her on the issue.

Divisional Commander Balram Persaud had told Stabroek News that 15 students from Queenstown Secondary School and two from Christ Church Secondary were arrested after frightened teachers from the Leonora Secondary School called police.

He explained that two students at the Leonora Secondary School had a “problem,” resulting in one calling a relative who attends one of the two city secondary schools. Apparently that relative rounded up other students and armed with knives they travelled to the West Coast for a confrontation.

According to Persaud, the group of students descended on the school dressed in their school uniforms. Teachers there immediately contacted the police who arrested them.