A scathing verbal attack, followed by a physical assault, allegedly on a young female student, by an enraged teacher at the Braeton Primary and Junior High School last Thursday have left other teachers and students fuming.
A small-bodied 14-year-old girl told a gripping story of how she was brutally cursed by the teacher before being pursued and choked.
The child, who complained that she had been depicted as a young prostitute, had scratches on her neck. She claimed that the marks were left by the teacher’s stranglehold. Another teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Sunday Gleaner that she was embarrassed and appalled by the action of her colleague. “I feel strongly about the issue with my colleague. I just can’t condone this behaviour,” she told The Sunday Gleaner.
The teacher expressed concern that bad publicity could bring both the school and professional members of the teaching administration into disrepute. She also expressed concern that the incident could affect the ongoing salary dispute with the Government. The alleged attack came on the heels of a week when students were largely the victims of a stand-off between the Government and public-school teachers.
A two-day strike was followed by Teachers’ Day, with many schools closed as teachers were fêted, or fêted themselves, even as public debate raged about the quality of their performance. Principal of the institution, Fitz Jackson (not the MP), said he was contacted by one of the student’s parents on Friday, but he had not received a report from the teacher. Jackson said he was unable to comment on the matter as he had not been able to carry out his own investigations.
“I heard of the incident from a parent of the student; I don’t even know what time it took place.” Jackson said he was unable to proceed on Friday, when he was told of the incident, as teachers were absent due to the Grade Nine Achievement Test at school. But he said he was prepared to meet with the parent to resolve the issue.
Parents not letting up
Parents who have children attending the school told The Sunday Gleaner that they were adamant that the matter not be swept under the carpet.
Director of Communications at the Ministry of Education, Colin Blair, told The Sunday Gleaner that complaints of abuse in schools were infrequent.
“It happens, but not frequently,” he declared, in response to Sunday Gleaner questions. “I don’t know of the specific case, but I want to emphasise what is illegal in society is illegal in schools … . No matter who is involved, the police should be called in,” Blair asserted. The student said she was in a language arts session with a sealed bottle of drink on her desk when the teacher used a metal pole to hit it to the floor.
The child said the teacher then proceeded to curse her, before chasing her out of the classroom. She said as she stood by the door, the teacher continued to berate her, calling her a whore. “Me stand at the door and she tell me that me turn me mother house into a whorehouse,” said the student. The child said she was embarrassed, as the teacher was cursing her in the presence of her peers. The student related how a heated exchange developed between her and the teacher, with the teacher asking her, “Yu mother have anymore whoring pickney like you?” The child said she responded, “A yu a whore!”
This apparently angered the teacher even more. The student told The Sunday Gleaner that the teacher proceeded to chase her around the school. Sought refuge in staffroom She said she sought refuge in a staffroom where she saw another teacher seated. But the presence of the teacher’s colleague in the staffroom did not deter the teacher, who was still in hot pursuit. The student said she ran in circles around the seated adult in a bid to elude the pursuing teacher, but was eventually held in a chokehold.
The diminutive 14-year-old said the teacher threw her on a desk and proceeded to hit her head against its surface while choking her. She pointed to scratches on her neck as she spoke to The Sunday Gleaner. The student said the attacking teacher was restrained by her colleague who told her to leave the staffroom quickly. She said she was subsequently sent to the guidance counsellor’s office. The child said the guidance counsellor was not in the office at the time so she returned outside, where there was a buzz of activities, as both teachers and students discussed the situation.
She said a teacher told her that she had given up her rights when she answered the teacher. However, the student said the teacher did not tell her how she should have reacted when she was being attacked.