Wed | Apr 24, 2019

Running scared - Teacher bruised in bust-up with C-Bar track stars; Champs sponsors to probe assault

Published:Friday | March 22, 2019 | 12:34 AMAkino Ming and Jason Cross/Gleaner Writers
Calabar High sprint sensation Christopher Taylor (left) and middle-distance star Kimar Farquharson go through a training drill at the school’s Red Hills Road compound yesterday. Taylor, captain of the school’s Champs track team, waved away the photographer as the Gleaner news team sought to find out whether he and school officials were aware of the teacher assault.
Board Chairman Karl Johnson: I am an open book, and the school has nothing to hide.
Then vice-principal Calvin Rowe, with head boy Rajay Maragh, walk with the Mortimer Geddes trophy on March 16, 2017. The school has won the boys' title at Champs for seven years straight. File
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A teacher at Calabar High School is now scared for his safety after making several attempts to ensure that two of the school’s elite track athletes serve suspensions for allegedly assaulting him in December 2018.

The Gleaner was reliably informed that the teacher told a senior colleague at the Red Hills Road, St Andrew, school that he would not enter the premises after he was summoned to a meeting late yesterday evening for fear of being harmed.

The teacher, who has requested anonymity because of security concerns, had released a media advisory early yesterday saying that he would be pressing charges against the athletes, who are expected to play roles in Calabar’s title defence at the 2019 staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships next week, after the school failed to adequately discipline the athletes.

It is reported that one of the athletes competed at the Digicel Grand Prix final last Saturday while serving a much-delayed suspension for the incident.

“We noticed that both athletes were allowed to train on the school compound while serving suspension, and one of them competed also,” a source close to the incident told The Gleaner.

The Gleaner learned that the teacher has been pressing for the athletes to be suspended since December, but senior members of the hierarchy at the school were resisting.

“He has been requesting for the students to be suspended since the incident happened, and in one instance, he was told by a senior administrator: ‘The students are ambassadors of the school. What you telling me, to suspend the ambassadors?’” the source revealed to The Gleaner. “He wrote several letters and nothing was done until two weeks ago, and the boys were allowed to compete.”

The offending boys are medal-winning standouts at Champs and are expected to churn out multiple points to give Calabar their eight straight hold on the boys’ title. They allegedly held the teacher in a chokehold and drew blood in the incident. His cell phone was also reportedly stamped on.

There is video evidence documenting the assault, The Gleaner has learnt.

Several attempts to contact acting principal, Calvin Rowe, were unsuccessful, and when The Gleaner’s news team turned up at the school, they were asked to leave.

Incumbent principal Albert Corcho has been on months-long leave from the school.

“He gave the school the opportunity to deal with it, and they made a mess of it, so he will have to press charges,” the source said.

Up to press time, the matter was not reported to the police.

Meanwhile, Don Wehby, CEO of GraceKennedy, the title sponsors of Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, expressed outrage at the unfolding saga.

“I was shocked when I heard it on the newscast,” Wehby said.

“I haven’t been briefed at all; I just heard on the newscast,” he told The Gleaner last night, moments after flying in from a business trip to New York. “There was a call from an old boy who brought it to my attention. GraceKennedy is going to treat this matter seriously.

“We are not prepared to put up with that sort of behaviour with any event with which we are associated. If it’s true, it’s a serious thing for GraceKennedy,” he said.

Wehby also disclosed that he would seek audience with Dr Walton Small, president of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association, on Friday.

Calabar’s board chairman, the Rev Dr Karl Johnson, admitted to The Gleaner that some of the institution’s star track athletes were, in December, implicated in the assault of a teacher, but was reluctant to confirm names.

He further stated that, following the incident, the school applied appropriate measures to resolve the matter and expressed surprise that a week before the start of the 2019 Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships at the National Stadium, the grouse has resurfaced.

“I can confirm knowledge of the incident. School administrators made several efforts and engaged in initiatives to address the matter. Up to recently, we were of the view the matter was amicably resolved,” Johnson said yesterday.

“Efforts included action taken at the student level and a confession made at the teacher level, so we thought the matter was settled. I am an open book, and the school has nothing to hide. [However], we don’t normally discuss internal matters with the public.”

akino.ming@gleanerjm.com

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com