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Schoolboy’s stabbing threat sparks protest

Trinidad Express / A threat by an 11-year-old boy to stab someone at his school reignited protest action by parents of pupils attending the Santa Rita Roman Catholic School in Rio Claro yesterday. The school was shut down as parents burned tyres outside the gates, preventing pupils and teachers from entering the compound. The parents demanded a meeting with Education Minister Anthony Garcia. Yesterday, the Ministry of Education’s Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said the child will be taken out of the school and officials from the Student Support Services Division will work with him for a period of time until he can be reintegrated into the school. Savitri Persad said she and her fellow parents were not prepared to endanger their children’s lives by sending them to school. She said: “The boy told a taxi-driver yesterday that he was not feeling to go to school and he was feeling to stab someone at school. “The driver became concerned and informed the parents. That was when we decided to take action. We are not comfortable sending the children to school with him there. This is becoming unbearable.” Persad said parents gathered at the school at daybreak and blocked the entrance. She said parents were not satisfied with the response of the Education Minister, who “proved he was unable to deal with the situation”. Persad said the Standard Two pupil who had attacked pupils and teachers on numerous occasions attended school on Monday. “Test is going on at school. The Standard Five pupils are preparing for SEA. This boy came to school and was beating drums and steelpan and disturbing the other children. The teachers don’t stop him because they too are afraid of him,” she said. Persad said parents have taken a decision to keep their children away from classes until the ministry takes action. She said ministry officials assigned to the case have failed. Calling on the Children’s Authority  The parents began protest action last week after a child was attacked by the bully. Garcia said last week he was unable to visit every school with problems. He said the matter was being addressed by the ministry’s Student Support Services Division. And Mayaro MP Rushton Paray has appealed to the Children’s Authority to intervene. Paray said the Ministry of Education had failed to address the concerns being raised by parents. He said the Children’s Authority can provide the guidance and help to the alleged bully. He said preliminary investigations have determined the child was not well and needed urgent treatment. Paray said the boy had displayed symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. “This is treatable. However, the treatment cannot be provided in a normal school environment. We must do everything in our power to treat this child to ensure that he has a bright future,” he said.

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