Parents who go onto school premises to confront members of staff have been advised to find alternative ways of resolving disputes or face the consequences of the law.
On the recent episode of Teacher’s Talk hosted by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU), the panelists addressed the issue of teacher-parent confrontation. The comments came in the wake of a video posted to social media on September 19 by a mother who went into a Kingstown school where she faced off with a teacher who she alleged had “thumped” her daughter the previous day.
In the video the mother stands at the classroom door pointing out the teacher after which the teacher instructs the parent not to post her on social media. The confrontation escalated to a shouting match between the two women and other members of staff intervened. One teacher encouraged the parent to speak to the Principal while another staff member restrained the teacher. A number of expletives were delivered by the parent within earshot of the students in the classroom.
The union representatives referenced an incident which occurred at the St Mary’s Roman Catholic School where a parent went onto the school premises and confronted a student. The parent was later brought before the court and found guilty on two charges – trespassing and threatening a child.
President of the SVGTU Oswald Robinson pointed to Section 150 of the Education Act under ‘Offences on premises of educational institution’ which outlines a number of actions which could result in breach of the law including loitering, trespassing or causing a disturbance on school grounds, assaulting or abusing a teacher or causing damage to any building or property of the school.
If found guilty the person is liable to a fine of $2,000 and the Union President said he believes the fine is too lenient.
“These types of issues should be reported to the police … the law should be brought in. I hope that the government will amend this and increase it to $20,000, because you cannot go on a school compound and create problems. Every time something happens you have to think of another way to try to mitigate.”
Robinson said incidents like this are especially “disrespectful to children” and parents need to follow the chain of command when addressing grievances with their children.
“You have to maintain rational behaviour, you know the chain that should be taken. If you don’t get satisfaction at the school level, then you take it to the Ministry. But going into a classroom and assaulting or confronting a teacher … parents have to ask themselves would my contribution be better if you take a different approach.”
To teachers, the Industrial Relations and Research Officer for the SVGTU, Andrew John issued a word of caution: “As teachers we must bear in mind that there is the law that we must take into consideration and remain within the law when we are dealing with discipline… and be considerate of the child’s feelings.”