Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Unwarranted suspensions irk students' council president

Published:Tuesday | October 10, 2017 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris

President of the National Secondary Students' Council (NSSC), Antonette Dennis, is calling on school administrators to review their disciplinary practices following the five-day suspension of a group of students from the St Catherine High School for their participation in a raunchy social-media challenge.

Dennis noted that unwarranted suspensions have become a pressing issue for the council and wants the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to conduct a suspension audit in all schools.

"I am deeply disgruntled at the fact that administrators are choosing not to use their discretion when distributing (sic) punishment," Dennis stated in a press release.

The group of St Catherine High School students was suspended last week Tuesday after a video circulating on social media, showed them, while in uniform, expressing the extent they would go for sexual pleasure. According to media reports, expulsion was also being considered.


Rehabilitative measures


Dennis said that while she does not condone the behaviour of the students, she is of the view that other rehabilitative measures should have been considered.

"The students could have been given an "in-school suspension" where you'd be permitted to attend classes but you may also be required to serve a detention and use majority of the allotted lunch period fulfilling appropriate activities in different areas around the school that you wouldn't be otherwise required to do," she said.

"The fact that they embarrassed themselves and the school does not give the public or anyone the right to deny them an education," Dennis said.

The NSSC president has also taken issue with the suspension of a student from a St Ann-based institution Friday for not wearing a school identification card and buying from an unauthorised vendor. The student was suspended for 10 days.

She feels the NSSC should be consulted before suspensions are issued, so that student representatives can help to ensure that fair and just punishment is issued.