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JTA supports dismissal of Robb-Oddman as father mourns death of Prickly Pole student

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) yesterday indicated it was in full support of the termination of the appointment of Vinnette Robb-Oddman as chairman of the board of the Prickly Pole Primary School in St Ann.

In a statement yesterday, the JTA also appealed for Education Minister Ronald Thwaites and the National Council on Education (NCE) to be reminded "of the critical role school boards play in the education system".

Said the JTA: "As such, persons so appointed should have the education of the nation's children as their sole agenda."

The stance of the teachers' body came following the death of 11-year-old Akella Lewis last Friday, under controversial circumstances.

Initial reports suggested the child died while being ushered on to a bus with other students to participate in a protest against South East St Ann Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna, in Claremont in the parish.

However, both Robb-Oddman and the child's mother, Andrea Jones, have denied that the student was involved in any way with the protest.

But according to Akella's father, Ernie Smith, his daughter told him earlier in the week that she was to go on a school trip, and asked for money.

"First day ah school she come home an' tell mi the school a go pon one trip. She neva seh wha kin' a trip," Smith told The Gleaner yesterday.

The child had missed school the previous week.

Smith said he questioned the relevance of going on a trip so early at the start of the school year, and later told her to take her mind off the trip as there was no money to send her.

"A Friday mi really find out seh is a political trip," he stated.

Bright and loving

Smith said his daughter was a bright and loving little girl.

She was scheduled to do the Grade Six Achievement Test next year.

Smith also disputed claims that his daughter was sickly.

"Mi have har from six weeks old. She neva have no sickness as far as me know. If she did sick, mi woulda mus' know!"

He said up to yesterday, no one from the school had contacted him regarding the incident.

Meanwhile, Superintendent of Police Wayne Cameron, who is in charge of St Ann, said the incident is now under investigation.

Cameron said the police have already collected statements from a number of persons and the process will continue.