Education ministry intervenes in Glenmuir Prep dispute

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

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THE Ministry of Education has intervened in the dispute involving administrators at Glenmuir Preparatory School in Clarendon and parent Juliet Johnson-Clarke, after the woman was asked to withdraw her son from the institution.

Permanent secretary in the ministry, Dean-Roy Bernard, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that Glenmuir Prep is registered with the ministry's Independent Schools Unit and that the division has been asked to do an investigation and to report to him on its findings to substantiate the complaint, after which corrective measures will follow.

“I know that at the level of the region, a report has been requested as well. So that will be swift to my hand. There's also interaction with the parent of the child as well, and the parent is aware of what we are doing on the matter.

Johnson-Clarke, in yesterday's Observer front-page story, said that her seven-year-old son was being bullied by another student at the ministry's region six institution.

Several complaints were made, she said, and several meetings held to address the matter.

In a letter addressed to her from the school, she was told to withdraw her son in the interest and preservation of the school's name, as well as to safeguard him from undue stress and anxiety.

“On November 9, [2018] a quorum of the board invited me to a meeting and the writer of that withdrawal letter, Father [Winston] Thomas, said that he was recommending that I withdraw my son since he had suffered so much trauma. I told him in no uncertain terms that withdrawal was not an option because my child has done nothing wrong — he has made friends, he's comfortable and he's doing well.

“He said to me that they had come up with a strategy to deal with the bully and asked me to stay my hand in terms of legal action until I hear from them in December, so that they could implement and assess the efficacy of the strategy or the intervention. So I have been waiting, and today (January 3) I got that letter. I think it's very disingenuous to be saying that because I threatened legal action when I was asked and agreed not to pursue any legal action until I have got feedback. I have only got this letter which is tantamount to expulsion,” said Johnson-Clarke.

The mother said that her son has been kicked in the chest, slapped in the face and wounded by the other child.

“...I won't say that the principal has failed to act, but I will say that if he has acted it has failed to change anything,” the woman said.

Johnson-Clarke learnt of the incidents after taking her son to see a counsellor. She noted that this was when he shared what was happening to him at school.

The school's board chair Winsome Singh said that the parties involved met and that the matter was thought to have been settled.

“I've spoken with that person already — myself, the principal and Father Thomas. So I don't know what else she expects of us. Either the child is not going to be staying in there or whatever, because she told us, 'Yes it has got much better and whatever',” said Singh.

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