Sun | Nov 18, 2018

‘Autocratic approach’ to lock out students for no TRN, says PTA

Published:Wednesday | October 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Students of Jonathan Grant High School in Spanish Town, St Catherine were locked out of school on Monday. Some of students said they were barred because they did not have a Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) card.

President of the Jonathan Grant High School Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Andrew Smith, is describing as an "autocratic approach" a decision by the school's principal to not admit students without Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) cards.

Smith told The Gleaner that the decision which came into effect on Monday saw scores of disgruntled students outside the gates of the Spanish Town, St Catherine institution long after the 7 a.m. start of the school day.

He further stated that those who were admitted would have spent at least some 20 minutes on the outside, while others would have opted to return home.

"What he (school principal Dr O'Neil Ankle) did, we found very distasteful. He just announced at our last PTA meeting in September that effective Monday (October 22), all students who do not have a TRN will not be allowed in the school and he doesn't care who don't like it," said Smith.

While conceding that the idea behind each child obtaining a TRN is a good one, Smith said the PTA body is particularly peeved as there was absolutely no consultation.

 

IT WAS NEVER DISCUSSED

 

"It was never discussed with us and I do not think that the board is aware of, much less to sanction it," argued the PTA president, indicating that the body chose not to immediately defy the decision in order to avoid confrontation.

He said the PTA then began to discuss the matter internally and once concerns from parents began to mount, he decided to put it in writing.

"I wrote him a letter on October 18 indicating to him that we were not in agreement. We support the idea but it was poorly executed and as such we want him to reconsider and have a different outlook. So, I thought he would have think twice and give us an opportunity to talk about it. Lo and behold, Monday morning I drop off my son at school and when I reach out there I saw chaos - around 50-60 students competing with motor vehicles along the stretch," he explained.

Efforts to get a comment from school principal Ankle was unsuccessful, as when The Gleaner arrived at the school shortly after 1:00 p.m. the security informed the team that he would not be speaking with them at this time.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com