File Photo – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
AFTER two incidents last week involving a student wielding a cutlass and a parent entering with a knife, teachers are calling on the Education Ministry to improve security measures at the Tranquillity Secondary School, Port of Spain.
TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Martin Lum Kin told Newsday that last Wednesday, there was “an altercation” during which a student “was brandishing a cutlass towards another student.
“That would have caused some unrest,” he said.
In addition, Lum Kin said, “There was a separate incident of a parent being allowed on the compound and not being fully supervised, and that parent was brandishing a switchblade.”
He said teachers remained in the staffroom “for fear of their safety.” The police then intervened after being called by the school’s administration.
Lum Kin said TTUTA visited the school last Friday and teachers wrote to the principal “outlining their concerns and recommended actions to be taken.”
The teachers suggested ensuring students are properly searched at the entrance, as well as more regular patrols.
The searches began on Monday but owing to a “middle-management meeting,” Lum Kin said the person assigned to do the searches had to stop at 8am.
“…And that allowed students to come in without being searched.
“Some of the teachers, realising that was the situation, would have withdrawn their attendance from the school.”
Lum Kin said there was a staff meeting on Tuesday at 1pm and he is awaiting a report from it.
He added, “There is a letter circulating from the Ministry of Education with recommendations given to the principal and their commitment to certain actions.”
Asked if TTUTA’s official stance is that teachers should stay away from school in such situations, he said, “We are going through the steps to evaluate and to ascertain whether it is a legitimate concern for a refusal to work. But in the meantime, the teachers will be reporting for duty and they will take a personal decision as to whether to withdraw or not.”
Any teachers who have stayed away from work so far, he said, did so independently.
The Education Ministry recently had to fix a broken fence, among other things, at the Belmont Secondary School after gunmen entered the grounds.