Parents of several students attending the All Saints Secondary School are registering their dissatisfaction with the actions of the school’s principal, George Edwards, who ordered a group of students off the premises yesterday.
Reportedly, more than 50 third formers were asked to leave the school yesterday morning and not return until they had purchased paint to refurbish two classrooms on the third form block.
“I don’t have to defend my side. The fact of the matter is the students paint up graffiti on the wall and they are going to paint it,” Edwards said, when The Daily OBSERVER asked why the students, whose ages average 16 years, were sent home. “They cannot be in school until they come with the paint to paint it. They were told to paint it last week and they had until Monday.”
But the parents are contending that the principal could have handled the matter differently.
“Yes, the students should be held responsible for their actions, but they are not working, so how can the principal decide that my child should come up with the money to paint the classroom?” one parent, whose 15 year old was sent home, asked.
One irate father, who wished to be identified only as Richard, said someone from his village called him to inform him that his daughter was sitting on his gallery at home.
“Why weren’t the parents contacted? When you register your child, they take contact numbers. This happened since last year and my daughter just went to school because she is a post-primary student. If this happened since then what does this have to do with her?” Richard asked.
“I was so upset that he (the principal) even called police. How could he send home people young adolescent daughter? This man want(s) my child (to) go astray. Anything can happen because no adults are around,” he added.
Another father, who came to the school with his daughter, said he waited for more than an hour to speak with the principal while he was on the phone with ministry officials.
The parent said that he returned with his daughter to inquire as to why exactly his child was sent home.
“My daughter was not at school last Tuesday when he discussed it with them because she was sick. When she came back on Wednesday she didn’t explain it to me that they had to agree amongst themselves to purchase the paint and have the classrooms painted over the weekend,” he said.
Meantime, the aggrieved mother of another student expressed her frustration saying, “The principal must be crazy. How you could send children home for graffiti that have accumulated for some time? This was not done in one day. There was always filth on the walls and then when school closed, the principal said that they met more. The children were not in school so how can you hold them accountable for that?
“If Mr Edwards could single out it is my child then I wouldn’t even mind, but all those students on the street when them parents send them to school, it’s just unfair,” the woman added.
Around 9 am yesterday, scores of children were seen at the bus stop, some headed to their homes in the neighbouring villages while others were heading into St John’s.
“Them nah know who put the graffiti dey, but them ah say arwe haffu clean up. Me asthmatic and me cyarn manage no paint, so me ah go home,” one of the students told The Daily OBSERVER.
The students were required to provide paint in the colours white, grey and crackle stone, the three main colours of the building in question.
Calls to Senior Education Officer Clare Browne, who has responsibility for secondary schools, were unsuccessful and messages left with his secretary went unanswered at the time of going to press.