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Garcia: Pupil knocked unconscious had weapon

Trinidad Express / Criticised for his decision to suspend a Mayaro Secondary School pupil who was knocked unconscious in a fight, Education Minister Anthony Garcia has revealed the reason for the action. Garcia told reporters yesterday the girl, who was seen being viciously beaten and dragged unconscious from a drain, had come to school that day armed with a weapon. The teenager and three other girls were suspended over the fight, which was recorded and uploaded to social media. Following an hour-long meeting at the school last week Monday, Garcia announced the decision to suspend all those involved, including the victim. He said then she was “equally to blame”. Speaking with reporters following an event at the St Barb’s Primary School in Laventille, Garcia said he did not initially reveal the reason for suspending the victim in order to prevent any negative attention being placed on her. But he said he felt compelled to explain the decision given the manner in which it was carried in the media. “The child came to school with a weapon,” he said. “Apart from the fact that the child was the subject of a beating, the child came to school armed with a weapon and we had no alternative but to suspend the child.” Garcia did not say what weapon the girl had been armed with. However, she was seen in the video holding a pair of scissors. Asked whether consideration was given to the possibility that the girl had a weapon in her possession because of a fear of other pupils, Garcia said whatever the reason, bringing a weapon to school warranted immediate suspension. He added suspending the pupils was not his decision alone, but was a course of action agreed upon after discussions with school officials and police. The pupils were initially given a seven-day suspension but the school principal was advised to apply for an extension. Garcia also sought to clear up reports that he was reluctant to believe an 11-year-old boy at the Santa Rita RC School was causing problems for staff and pupils. Comments misinterpreted  Parents staged a protest at the school last Monday and again yesterday claiming the boy had attacked other pupils and teachers and had a history of violent behaviour. Questioned about the matter at a conference that day, Garcia said he found it hard to believe a child would be beating teachers. Garcia said yesterday, however, his comments had been misinterpreted. “I was confronted with the statement that there is a student who is beating teachers in the school and my response was I find it impossible to believe that there is a student in a school who was beating teachers…A reporter asked me what I have to say about a student beating teachers in a school, I found that that was difficult to believe.”

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