(CNS): Education officials have confirmed that a second teacher at the primary school in West Bay had been placed on required leave by the department in November over an allegation of assault on a student. The revelation came at a meeting with the press Thursday, where Education Minister Tara Rivers and her ministry team answered questions about the recent ‘fake news’ regarding mould at Sir John A. Cumber Primary School and the most recent allegations against a teacher for assault.
But the officials confirmed that there are now two teachers from the school who are on required leave. This follows reports about assault allegations, which, as per the requirements of the Children Law (2012 Revision), were passed on to the Department of Children and Family Service (DCFS). In both cases the allegations progressed to police enquiries.
No one has been arrested, however, and nothing has been proven against either of the teachers. There are now three educators who are on required leave because of assault allegations from a department-wide team of over 750 teachers. The third was charged last year and is going through the court system.
Although the Department of Education Services now follows a legal protocol for the reporting of any allegations or incidents involving children to the DCFS, the ministry does not have a protocol or system in place for revealing publicly the allegation made against teaching staff.
The West Bay primary principal, Paul Samuels, said that parents are informed when a teacher is placed on leave while an allegation is investigated but they are not given the details about why the teacher will be absent from the school. Officials said they needed to find the balance for the mandatory process because the allegations can be completely unfounded.
They explained that as the Children Law goes into effect in schools, the public can expect to see more reports because everyone must follow a process, but it will not always mean that the teacher is removed.
In these two cases, however, the allegations have progressed to a police inquiry, though it appears the circumstances surrounding the two assault incidents at the school are quite different. The most recent is said to involve a teacher throwing a chair, while the earlier allegation in November appears to be related to an effort on the teacher’s part to separate two students involved in an altercation.
Samuels, who took over as principal this academic year, stated that the two teachers were at very different stages in their careers; one was a relatively new teacher and the other has been in the profession for many years.
Dealing with behavioural issues in the classroom is always a challenge, he noted, but teachers have all undergone training to help them stay safe and avoid what could be frivolous allegations or falling into error.