The president of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (ABUT), Ashworth Azille, said he hopes his peers learn from the case of Vendiz Charles, their peer, who was convicted and ordered to pay compensation to a student he injured.
Azille said he respects the court’s decision as he noted that the entire situation was an unfortunate one that could have been avoided.
“I think it provides, though, for us, a critical lesson for teachers to be guarded, very guarded, with how they choose to interact with students. There are times of course that the human element takes over and we may be tempted to throw something or say something or touch them or hold them in an aggressive way, and so it is just a general encouragement for us to be very guarded and for us to be circumspect in the manner in which we choose to interact physically with our students,” he said.
The incident involving the teacher and student, which occurred in January 2017, left the student with a fractured skull and he has since been complaining of headaches and blurred vision.
According to the sentencing record of Justice Iain Morley, the student was doing stunts on his bicycle in the corridor at Clare Hall Secondary School and ignored warnings from the teacher to stop.
Charles – a physics teacher who was providing free after-school classes to some other students – then hurled a stone in the direction of those breaking the rules to, he said, get their attention.
Scotland was knocked unconscious by the stone and rushed to hospital.
Azille said he hopes students also take away a lesson from the incident.
“It’s also an encouragement to students as well to try to avoid getting themselves in situations where others may feel so compelled to take that course of action. I think in retrospect, the entire thing could have been avoided, but clearly it is what it is,” he said.
The head of ABUT said the Union maintains the action by the teacher was a lapse in judgment and the teachers continue to support Charles.