Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Public Defender warns against student interviews without parents

Published:Sunday | October 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry

The Office of the Public Defender (OPD) has warned that school administrators should not interview students without the presence of their parents.

This was contained in the OPD report to Parliament following an investigation into the decision of St Hilda’s Diocesan High School to strip Jade Bascoe of her head girl appointment.

The OPD report found that a day after Bascoe’s appointment the school’s principal, Heather Reid-Johnson, summoned the 16-year-old to her office for a meeting and invited her secretary join them.

The report indicated that it was during this meeting that Bascoe was questioned about her religious affiliation.

However, the Arlene Harrison-Henry-led OPD blasted the actions of the principal, saying such an interview was uncaring of the child.

Further, the OPD said a principal does not have the right to question a child about his or her religious denomination and charged that in this case Reid-Johnson overstepped her authority.

As a result, it recommended that parents be called in when their children are to be interviewed by school administrators, noting that a student should not be subjected to an interview by persons in authority over them.