News day / Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis said the boy will receive whatever treatment he needs.

“(We have decided) to remove him from the school because the situation might be too tenuous to keep him there,” Francis told Newsday yesterday.

There were allegations that the boy was sexually suggestive towards female classmates and physically violent towards both students and teachers. His alleged behaviour sparked protests last week with parents of other students calling for him to be removed from the school and given the “professional help” they believe he needs.

The ministry responded by first referring him to the Student Support Services Division (SSSD) and promised to provide an “aide” to work with him in the school. This prompted another protest. The parents said these methods had already been used without success since the student’s enrolment in 2015.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia was asked in Parliament on Friday last by Princes Town MP Barry Padarath to account for the Ministry’s response. Garcia said the student was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder which is characterised by, among other things, a refusal to follow directions and unwillingness to compromise or negotiate with others, including peers.

Frustrated parents once again set fire to tyres and blocked roads from as early as 5.30 am yesterday.

“If you know this child has a mental problem, why you sending this child in a school with 140 children?” asked Savitri Persad, interim president of the PTA.

“Our school is not a mental institution, it is a school for children to come and learn, to come and interact with children. We want him out of the school.” By noon, a decision was made.

Francis said the boy would be removed and put in the care of the SSSD.

“If the boy’s case is so severe that the SSSD cannot deal with it themselves, we will look into getting him whatever outside help he needs.” Asked whether the boy was suspended or expelled and how long the treatment would last, Francis said, “We are just saying that he will be removed to get treatment. I cannot say for certain how long this would last. We would leave that to the experts to decide.” Parish priest of St Theresa’s RC Church and manager of the Santa Rita RC school Fr Glyn Jemmott said he was not directly responsible for the school since his position as manager is a moral one. However, he said “This matter has been allowed to go on for too long. I think somewhere along the line, whether it is the Catholic Education Board of Management, whether it is the government, whether it is the teachers themselves, this matter could and should have been dealt with. The way things are now is the result of somebody not acting effectively and with right judgement.” Jemmot said though many may think it is the responsibility of the church to have the boy removed from the school, he thinks otherwise.

“There are two ways to approach a situation like this. One is what may be considered to be the efficient and bureaucratic way, the next way is one of patience and compassion and that can only happen if one has a vocation to do so.”


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