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Garcia: Victim just as culpable
Four female Mayaro Secondary School students who were involved in fracas last Tuesday could now face expulsion, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said yesterday.
He made the revelation following a closed door meeting with the school supervisor, principal, teachers, the students’ parents and other stakeholders, in the wake of an incident last week in which a teen female student was knocked unconscious during a brawl.
Garcia said the four students involved in the brawl, including the victim who was knocked unconscious, had already been suspended for seven days. However, he said he instructed the principal to apply for an extension of suspension, since what the students did was too severe for a mere seven-day penalty.
A video of incident went viral on social media and Garcia visited the school after it was highlighted in the media last week.
Saying he as minister, alongside Minister of State Dr Lovell Francis, had the ultimate responsibility in deciding whether the students should be expelled, Garcia said: “We are not going to tolerate this type of behaviour in our school system,” Garcia said.
He emphasised that a school must be a place where students learn and teachers teach in a relatively safe environment and when there are infractions to the school rules, it is the ministry’s responsibility to take corrective action, which could mean a prolonged absence from school and perhaps expulsion. Asked why the victim was also suspended and had to apologise to the other girls involved, Garcia said she was equally culpable in the brawl, but said he could not divulge more than this.
Garcia said the parents of all the student were told they were all culpable and no one could escape blame during the near three-hour meeting yesterday. He said there had been a breakdown of a number of systems in the school, which must now be sorted out.
He said if these systems had been in place the incident would not have occurred.
But speaking afterwards, Radha Ramsoomair, mother of 14-year-old old beating victim, still questioned why the action was being taken against her child. Noting her daughter suffered head injuries and had been a target of the other girls, she said it was very unfair.
Ramsoomair said she has been visiting the police station to lodge her complaint, but has been given the run around by officers each time and has unable to make her report.
Also responding to a protest by students of UWI’s law school yesterday, Garcia said that was the baby of the university.