Jamaica: Parent asked to withdraw bullied child from prep school

Glenmuir Prep School

(Jamaica Observer) JULIET Johnson-Clarke, already faced with the challenge of her son being continuously bullied, has now been asked by the Glenmuir Preparatory School to withdraw him in the “interest/preservation of [the] school’s name”.

Johnson-Clarke told the Jamaica Observer last Thursday that her seven-year-old grade two son has been repeatedly abused by another student who remains at the school.

“On November 9, [2018] a quorum of the board invited me to a meeting and the writer of that withdrawal letter Father [Winston] Thomas said that he was recommending that I withdraw my son since he had suffered so much trauma. I told him in no uncertain terms that withdrawal was not an option because my child has done nothing wrong — he has made friends, he’s comfortable and he’s doing well.

“He said to me that they had come up with a strategy to deal with the bully and asked me to stay my hand in terms of legal action until I hear from them in December so that they could implement and assess the efficacy of the strategy or the intervention. So I have been waiting, and today (January 3) I got that letter. I think it’s very disingenuous to be saying that because I threatened legal action when I was asked and agreed not to pursue any legal action until I have got feedback. I have only got this letter which is tantamount to expulsion,” said Johnson-Clarke.

JOHNSON-CLARKE… son has been kicked in the chest, slapped in the face, and wounded by other child

The mother said that her son has been kicked in the chest, slapped in the face, and wounded by the other child.

“…I won’t say that the principal has failed to act, but I will say that if he has acted it has failed to change anything,” the woman said.

Johnson-Clarke learnt of the incidents after taking her son to see a counsellor. She noted that this was when he shared what was happening to him at school.

The school board, in the letter dated December 20, noted that it would ensure that the measures put in place to stop the bullying of Johnson-Clarke’s child will be used to “lessen future occurrences” as it relates to every child at the school.

“In addition, with reference to your correspondence dated November 5, 2018, second to last paragraph: ‘I fully intend to engage legal avenues of recourse against Glenmuir Preparatory for negligence and against the child’s mother for assault…’ In light of the above-mentioned statement and in the interest /preservation of our school’s name, we recommend that you withdraw your child at the start of the next term (Easter 2019),” the letter read.

“This is to safeguard your child from undue stress and anxiety. Thank you for having entrusted your child’s education to us over the past year and term. We wish you and your son all the very best in his future endeavours,” the letter added.

The Observer contacted the school’s board chair Winsome Singh, who stressed that the matter had already been dealt with.

“I’ve spoken with that person already — myself, the principal and Father Thomas. So I don’t know what else she expects of us. Either the child is not going to be staying in there or whatever, because she told us, ‘yes it has got much better and whatever’,” Singh told the Observer.

She then stated that the principal, during the meeting, said that if the two students are not able to get along one would have to leave.

“That is what we have said, and after that I haven’t heard anything else. From that last [meeting] we had with her I haven’t heard anything else. I don’t know why those two children would have any problems. I am not there so I don’t know. I can’t help anymore,” said Singh.

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