Principal of Enid Bennett High School in Bog Walk, St. Catherine, Patrick Phillips, has promised to put measures in place to improve discipline at the institution, adding that his school is not the only one where indiscipline has worsened.
He made the disclosure moments after meeting with his teachers who walked off the job yesterday, February 13, in protest against indiscipline and what is said to be the school’s nonchalant response.
Phillips told The Beacon: “Indiscipline among our students – not only in Enid Bennett High School but overall is getting worse and worse.
“Teachers are really fed up of the indiscipline among our students, and so we have to send a clear message to parents and students that the teaching population will not tolerate such behaviour… The clear message includes different interventions – parenting seminars. What happens is that a lot of the students who are having the fracas and indiscipline have weak parents,” the principal further reasoned.
He explained that he sent home the student population early yesterday afternoon because teachers demanded a meeting, which was attended by Chairman of the school board Colin Woodham.
Phillips said some male students have been disruptive over a period of time, but he denied knowledge of at least three fights allegedly taking place at school on Career Day – a day before teachers took protest action.
“There was a fracas between students which the Dean [of Discipline] had under control [on Careers Day,” he said, adding: “There have been some infractions by a group of boys over the term and the teachers felt that a strong message must be sent to these students, and so they demanded a meeting after lunch [yesterday].”
Phillips further posited that there are no clear signs of gangs operating at the institution, formerly Bog Walk High.
“There are groups of boys; boys come together. I don’t know if it is a gang because a gang would have a name and all of those things and they would use graffiti to identify themselves. That is not happening and I don’t know the name of any gang, but students are from communities and they walk together and all of that,” the principal said.
He, in the meantime, indicated that claims about his administration not doing enough to address the issue of indiscipline are unreasonable.
“Punishment has to take a procedure. Oftentimes persons get emotive and say students must go home and all of those things, but we cannot just get up and run home students like that. It must take a procedure and sometimes the procedure takes time,” the principal further explained.
One source, however, told The Beacon that the school’s administration recently did not follow correct procedure, and so missed a big opportunity to punish one of the main producers of indiscipline.
“A boy that threatened teachers yesterday was taken to the board last week, but remained in school because proper procedure was not followed,” the source explained.
“This student was brought before the school board for extortion, gambling, truancy, fighting, disrespect to teachers – to name a few. The board also did not constitute properly to hear the charges against the student. Teachers are genuinely fearful and very restive as this student is allowed to carry out mayhem at the school.”
Teachers at Enid Bennett High, in the meantime, walked off the job three days after President of the Jamaica Teachers Association, Owen Speid, gave the government a 30-day ultimatum to present a plan of action to address violence in schools across the island.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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