News day / Garcia and other ministry officials met with the students and their parents at the school compound yesterday morning. He said the students and their parents were given an opportunity to speak before he drew his conclusions. “All four students are culpable. There is no one student who can escape blame, even the student who was beaten. That student also has to accept some responsibility.” Asked what the beaten student did to warrant suspension, Garcia said, “I do not want to disclose that because it is children we are dealing with and I don’t think it is right for me to disclose that to the national community. But I can safely say she was equal to blame.” The incident was recorded and a video uploaded to social media .

The mother of the beaten student said she could not say whether her daughter was “equally responsible or not” because she was not present during the incident. She assured that a pink scissors her daughter was seen holding in the video did not come from home. “She told me she got it in school to defend herself .

From what the girls said, they were all provoking each other since the Friday before up until what happened on Tuesday,” the woman said .

The four students, including the student who was knocked unconscious, were suspended for seven days. Yesterday, Garcia instructed the principal to apply for an extension of the suspension. Still, punishment may not end there as Garcia is considering expelling “some of them.” Schools must be a place of “relative safety” for students and teachers Garcia said and infractions like these require corrective action .

“And in this case corrective action might mean a prolonged period of absence from school and perhaps it might even mean expulsion.” Expelled students can be enrolled in learning enhancement centres in an effort at behaviour modification .

Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said that last Tuesday’s incident was the result of a breakdown in systems to deal with indiscipline. The school has a disciplinary plan, said Seecharan, but the plan has gaps in terms of the roles and functions of everyone involved. He assured that the ministry will be putting the necessary systems in place in a “very short time.”


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