Rastafarian entertainer charged for homeschooling kids freed
A St Andrew man charged in April 2019 for failing to send his two stepchildren to school was today freed by the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court.
Musician, singer, and songwriter JahDore, whose real name is Sean McDonald, had asserted that he had made a decision to home school the children.
Attorneys-at-law Hugh Wildman and Indira Patmore argued in court that no offence was disclosed under section 24 of the Education Act for which McDonald was charged.
The attorneys said there was nothing in section 24 which allowed for the police to charge any parent for failing to have a child of compulsory age, in a designated area, attending school.
They argued that the section clearly circumscribed the basis on which a charge may be proferred and that was failure to respond to a notice by the educational board to submit the child for examination by a medical officer.
It was further argued that no such notice was served on McDonald and therefore it was illegal for the police to go to his home and take the family into custody for a purported breach as alleged.
Parish Judge Maxine McPherson upheld the submissions and ruled that no offence was made out.
The allegations were that on April 30, 2019, the police went to Gordon Town, St Andrew at the home of McDonald and his common-law wife.
It was alleged that the woman told the police that it was McDonald's decision not to send the children to school “at this time” and that he was engaged in homeschooling.
The reggae artiste, who is an orthodox Rastafarian, was taken to the Gordon Town Police Station where he was charged under section 24 of the Education Act for failing to have the children attend school.
The two charges stated that McDonald, being the parent of a child under compulsory school age, failed to cause the children to receive full-time education or otherwise.
Meanwhile, arising from the incident, McDonald is charged with assaulting the police and that case is set for June 17.
It was reported that while at the station McDonald and a policeman got into a tussle following which he was charged.
He claimed that he and his common-law wife were mistreated at the police station.
McDonald had claimed that the police forcibly took his Rastafarian children, who were ages 4 and 8 at the time, from their home, trimmed their locks and fed them meat.
Orthodox Rastafarians do not eat meat.
The police rejected the claims.
At the time, the police stated that the boys were taken to the barber and for lunch by their aunt, who had accompanied their mother to the station in a matter which was reported to the police by concerned family members.
- Barbara Gayle
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