Mon | Oct 22, 2018

What other punishment can STATHS resort to?

Published:Monday | July 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I recently listened to a Nationwide radio clip that highlighted an interview with Minister of Education Ruel Reid. The interview focused on the minister's decision to terminate an initiative taken by the principal and endorsed by the school board and parent-teacher association of St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS).

In an attempt to reverse the chronic problem of student lateness, a $50 fine (or detention) was imposed by the principal, Rayon Simpson, who took charge of the school earlier this year. The minister's position was that the fine was unlawful because the Education Act entrusted such powers only to the minister and, therefore, the principal had overstepped his authority.

On the face of it, the minister was well within his authority to require the principal to cease and desist with the imposition of the fine.

I am curious, though, whether the minister's decision was his only option. Given the reported success rate reported by the principal, could the minister not have given the programme the imprimatur of his office?

The fact is, the minister has known of the dire straits STATHS has been in for well over a year. The National Education Inspectorate report of early 2016 painted a very dismal picture marked by widespread underachievement.

Given that accountability travels in both directions, what has the minister done in terms of providing intervention strategies to assist the school? What were the added resources provided to the principal and staff to wipe away the scourge of underachievement?