Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pupil suspended over Facebook post criticising school

A secondary school pupil who, in a Facebook post, called on the Education Ministry to deal with issues at the Princes Town East Secondary School, was suspended for five days.

The reason for suspension, according to school officials, was posting of negative comments on social media regarding the school.

The Form Four pupil posted on September 1 that the air conditioning system at the school was not fully fixed and pupils expect to be dismissed early.

He warned first form pupils of the ongoing problems at the school.

The teen also called on the ministry to respond.

But school officials were not pleased with the comment and issued a letter of suspension to the pupil's parents.

The suspension took effect on the first day of the new school term, last week Monday.

He was expected to return to school on Monday.

But the teen's suspension has been condemned by many on social media.

Persons have called on the ministry to apologise to the teenager who was simply raising a concern on social media.

United National Congress (UNC) deputy political leader Khadija Ameen wrote:  “It came to my attention today that a student of Princes Town Secondary was SUSPENDED for posting about early dismissal of school due to the Ministry's failure to repair the school's AC system. The school is being dismissed at 11:30 am since the beginning of the term. That's barely enough time to hand in homework and receive new assignments. How long will this go on for? My question though: Did this post bring the school into disrepute? Did the student chastise the principal or teachers? What is the "offense" here? This cannot be right. I am seeking guidance on this.”

Ameen was among several persons on social media to call for an investigation into the suspension.

The Express contacted the pupil's father who asked that his child is not identified.

He said, “He has returned to school and that is all that matters. We do not want to identify him because he may be victimised and this is disrupting his education. He has exams soon and we don't want to stress him out.”

Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association (TTUTA) president Lynsley Doodhai and National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) president Zena Ramatali were unavailable for comment.

A ministry official told the Express that he was unable to comment on the issue at this time.