Students of Siparia West Secondary School run towards the stairway on Monday as a fight broke out in one of the classrooms above.

(Trinidad Guardian) A Siparia sec­ondary school is in cri­sis af­ter a se­ries of vi­o­lent episodes among stu­dents, teach­ers in fear for their lives and par­ents re­mov­ing their chil­dren — and even an al­le­ga­tion of a teacher im­preg­nat­ing a stu­dent.

The sit­u­a­tion has now led to an emer­gency meet­ing among stake­hold­ers to try to bring some or­der to the trou­bled high school.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia, the moth­er of the preg­nant stu­dent said her daugh­ter was raped and was be­ing coun­selled by the teacher who is be­ing ac­cused of fa­ther­ing the child.

The moth­er said she has no prob­lem do­ing a pa­ter­ni­ty test once the child is born next week.

She said her daugh­ter was raped when she was 14 and the teacher was the one who con­soled her when she be­gan harm­ing her­self with a blade.

The moth­er said her daugh­ter be­came sex­u­al­ly in­volved with an­oth­er stu­dent and got preg­nant on Au­gust 28.

Say­ing she was ap­palled that the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion had not in­ves­ti­gat­ed ram­pant sex­u­al ren­dezvous at the school’s com­pound and ac­cused of­fi­cials of cov­er­ing up sex acts and vi­o­lence in the class­room.

Be­fore her daugh­ter be­came preg­nant, she claimed a male stu­dent threw her daugh­ter down a flight of stairs af­ter she ac­ci­den­tal­ly dropped some food on his shirt. The moth­er said, “Noth­ing came out of it.”

The dis­traught par­ent said she has kept her preg­nant daugh­ter away from school over the past six months be­cause of the ru­mours about her and the male teacher.

“My daugh­ter is go­ing through a night­mare. I am hop­ing that the girl will be able to write her Caribbean Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate (CSEC) ex­am­i­na­tion in June af­ter she has the ba­by,” she added.

The Min­istry source con­firmed that in­ves­ti­ga­tions were on­go­ing in­to sex­u­al abuse and vi­o­lence among stu­dents.

The lat­est vi­o­lent in­ci­dent oc­curred around noon last Fri­day and end­ed with one stu­dent be­ing knocked al­most un­con­scious.

There are 80 teach­ers at the school and over 500 pupils, ac­cord­ing to school of­fi­cials. A decade ago, there were 1,500 pupils en­rolled but be­cause of fre­quent fights, many par­ents opt­ed to trans­fer their chil­dren.

In a video shared with Guardian Me­dia, stu­dents were seen throw­ing dust­bins and chairs at each oth­er. In the video, two Form One girls scuf­fled with each oth­er and one was seen slam­ming the oth­er’s head against a wall.

Teach­ers are now so fear­ful of stay­ing in the class­room un­less there is po­lice on the com­pound.

When Guardian Me­dia vis­it­ed the school yes­ter­day, an emer­gency meet­ing was in ses­sion with safe­ty of­fi­cers, teach­ers, se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tors and of­fi­cials of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Through the school fence, stu­dents were seen swing­ing from the stair­case. At Block E, the main teach­ing block, stu­dents could be heard shout­ing ob­scen­i­ties. This was fol­lowed by the sound of screams and what ap­peared to be the smash­ing of fur­ni­ture. A par­ent who led her son hur­ried­ly out of the com­pound said she was fed up of the in­dis­ci­pline.

“Right now my son’s back is still blue-black from the licks he got. They did not even in­form me that my son was beat­en. The vi­o­lence is spread­ing to every­one,” she said. She showed a video of her child who was be­ing beat­en by stu­dents with a piece of wood in an open field.

While she spoke, her son de­mand­ed that she stop the in­ter­view.

Keisha Tay­lor whose son was stabbed with a dag­ger stashed in the ceil­ing of the class­room last March said the sit­u­a­tion so bad that many stu­dents were us­ing their “free time” to have sex.

“There is no su­per­vi­sion in the school. The teach­ers can­not han­dle the sit­u­a­tion at all. My son was chopped and for three weeks he was out of school. The at­tack­er is still in school,” Tay­lor said.

A source said stu­dents throw knives and cut­lass­es over the school’s fence and then col­lect it to at­tack and threat­en each oth­er.

“They hide the weapons in the bush­es. Mar­i­jua­na is sold on the com­pound reg­u­lar­ly. The teach­ers are pow­er­less,” he added.

Guardian Me­dia was al­so told that teach­ers sign the at­ten­dance reg­is­ter and of­ten then leave ear­ly every Fri­day.

Min­is­ter: School has been on my radar

Con­tact­ed for com­ment, Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion Dr Lovell Fran­cis said the school has been on his radar for a while.

Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion Dr Lovell Fran­cis

“We will con­fer with the School Su­per­vi­sors and seek to make an in­ter­ven­tion in this school these are is­sues of lead­er­ship and man­age­ment at the school lev­el. Each school has a man­age­ment struc­ture that deals with is­sues of dis­ci­pline and hav­ing a school en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive to teach­ing in learn­ing. Where laps­es oc­cur or short­com­ings are iden­ti­fied we work with our Cur­ricu­lum Of­fi­cers and School Su­per­vi­sors to put mea­sures in place to strength­en the ex­ist­ing struc­tures. This school has been on my radar for a lit­tle while so it will be an area of spe­cif­ic fo­cus,” Fran­cis said.

Pres­i­dent of the T&T Uni­fied Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Lyns­ley Doo­d­hai could not be reached for com­ment and did not re­spond to What­sApp mes­sages.

Last week, Teach­ing Ser­vice Com­mis­sion chair­man Dr Fazal Ali said out of 33 com­plaints of sex­u­al ha­rass­ment for­ward­ed against teach­ers, no one has been found guilty.

He said the TSC can­not com­pel a stu­dent who makes sex­u­al ha­rass­ment charges against a teacher to be crossed-ex­am­in­ed by a tri­bunal as many par­ents do not al­low their chil­dren to re­live the trau­mat­ic ex­pe­ri­ence.

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