Zero Tolerance for the Guilty

By Cecily Asson

July 16, 2008,82601.html

TEACHERS or principals of Presbyterian Schools found guilty of sexual misconduct or any violent crimes against minors will be read the “riot act” by the Presbyterian School Board.

This comes after officials of the Presbyterian School Board met in an emergency session on Monday to discuss allegations of sexual misconduct and acts of violence by teachers of Presbyterian schools.

Chairman of the Presbyterian Board Windy Partap told Newsday yesterday in an attempt to find ways to deal with the crisis facing their schools, the board will meet with officials of the Ministry of Education next Monday.

A meeting of principals is also planned for September.

Partap said church leaders will also be approached to get involved.

He said, “One abused child is one to many and we have decided that to take every possible step to ensure that the children of our schools are protected.

“While we recognise the matters are still allegations, we are tackling this problem head- on. We have no intentions of having it swept under the carpet. We are not tolerating any kind of behaviour that departs from our morally accepted principles,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Partap said at the start of the new school term in September, principals will be called in by the Presbyterian School Board to discuss the troubling issue.

“We are going to talk to them on a one-on-one basis and in addition to that we have scheduled a principals’ convention to address the issue,” he said.

Partap said while the board had no power to discipline, the executive will “do everything in its power” to deal with cases of abuse against minors at their schools.

“The power to discipline lies with the Ministry of Education and we must find a way forward and work hand-in-hand to enhance the safety of our school population.”

He said the board was looking towards “professional and community involvement.”

“There must be increased vigilance within our schools. We must have meetings with our prinicpals and foster the growth of our Parent Teachers Associations and above all to have our church leaders become more deeply involved within our school community.”

Partap said it was the first time in the church’s history that such allegations were ever levelled against their teachers.

“And we view this to be very serious.”

Newsday had exclusively reported that the suspension of a principal of a Presbyterian school in central Trinidad who allegedly made threats against two teachers was the latest incident that has troubled the board members who have been trying to figure out what is the cause of the acts of violence and misconduct.

Three teachers from schools in the Caroni and St Patrick education districts are currently under investigation for sexual misconduct against students.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.