Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Troubled teen back in school - Education Ministry assigns 'shadow' to schoolgirl

Published:Sunday | March 20, 2016 | 3:00 AMCorey Robinson
Joyette Shakes* with her teen daughter who was locked out of school for three months.* Name changed on request.

The 14-year-old schoolgirl who was banned from classes for the past three months is now back in school following the intervention of the Ministry of Education.

Last Sunday, The Sunday Gleaner broke the story of the teenager who was neither suspended nor expelled from the downtown Kingston-based school, but was banned from classes because she was deemed a danger to herself, her classmates and her teachers.

The child's mother, Joyette Shakes*, had claimed that her daughter was told not to return to the school last December, following an incident involving her and a female teacher, which resulted in the teacher being injured.

"It would have been better if they did tell me to look a school and put her, but they never told me that. They never told me that they were suspending her or anything. So I don't know. I am just waiting to see what they are doing.

"She is set back a whole lot, because she keeps asking me, 'Mommy, when am I going to go back to school?' and it makes me very upset because she shouldn't be out of school now," said an obviously distraught Shakes.

But last Wednesday, it was a different Shakes as she beamed with joy after taking her child to school for the first time in three months.

Shakes said preparation for a return to school started last Monday when she was told to ready the teenager's uniform.

"I am very glad that she gets to go back to school because she was really missing out on everything and it was very worrying. She only has seizures and misbehaves when she gets excited. Other than that, she is a very bright child," said the mother of seven.

STUDENT WILL BE MONITORED

In the meantime, the education ministry told our news team that its Special Education Unit assigned a 'shadow' to be with the child.

"The shadow's main duties include monitoring the student in the school environment for the purpose of maintaining a safe and positive learning environment for all," said Byron Buckley, director of corporate communication at the education ministry.

He said the shadow would assist the student and teachers with behaviour management and seizure therapy.

According to Buckley, the decision was finalised in a meeting with the special needs coordinator and a clinical psychologist from the Regional Assessment Team, as well as the principal and staff at the child's school.

Buckley defended the ministry when questioned why the child had to be out of school for three months before a shadow was assigned.

"In this case, we actually had identified and started training somebody, but at the last minute they dropped out."

Buckley said that teachers and administrators at the school had pledged their support to work with the child.

* Name changed on request.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com