JTA defends sex offender teacher
Says convicted molester's suspension from school improperSunday, May 20, 2012
THE Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) is taking steps to quash the suspension of a Corporate Area high school teacher who, earlier this year, was convicted of sexually molesting one of his students.
But the move by the union has irked stakeholders at the school, who are insisting that a convicted sex offender should not be in the classroom.
The development comes just two weeks after JTA President Paul Adams declared that the teachers' union would not be defending members who are convicted sex offenders.
Addressing the biennial retreat of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools on May 2, Adams said the JTA would never support or defend teachers who have been convicted of such offences.
His utterance was triggered by widespread public outcry following the Sunday Observer's publication of the case of a male English teacher who was still employed at the school where the assault occurred, despite being slapped with a three-year suspended sentence, which included more than 300 hours of community service at a penal institution.
The article headlined 'Sex offender still teaching - Blunder leaves convict untouchable' revealed that Roger Hobbins was found guilty of indecent assault on a minor and was sentenced on January 19, 2012 in the Half-Way-Tree Resident Magistrate's Court.
The disclosure that he was still teaching prompted an alarmed minister of education Rev Ronald Thwaites to issue an order for the teacher to be removed from the classroom immediately.
Equally shocked education ministry officials who said they had no knowledge of the matter, swiftly requested a meeting that led the school board to suspend the teacher.
However, the Sunday Observer has learnt that since the suspension, the JTA has advised the school board that there were breaches in the procedures used to suspend the English teacher.
As a result, the union is demanding that he be reinstated. A senior officer of the JTA reportedly went to a special meeting at the school last week to articulate the union's position.
When contacted, the JTA president said he wasn't aware of the development and indicated that he would make checks to verify the claims that the union had written to the school board, and had sent an officer to represent the teacher at the special meeting.
A day after that, JTA Secretary General Dr Adolph Cameron advised the Sunday Observer that the president was still conducting his investigation and would not be able to shed light on the matter until the completion of that probe. Cameron said he was unable to state how long the investigation would take.
Speaking with this publication on Friday, the education minister said he had no knowledge of the development, but made it clear that the union's efforts will not be successful.
"No teacher who is convicted of a sexual offence is going to be accommodated in a Jamaican classroom," Thwaites declared.
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