Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 15th 2017 Contents news A13
Saturday, April 15, 2017 guardian.co.tt
PTA raises safety concerns
Concerns are being raised about the
health and safety of some 400 Arima
Presbyterian school students and their
teachers, if the National Petroleum
Company (NP) goes ahead with plans
to open a gas station near the school.
It is alleged that there was no approval given
by the Arima Borough Council for construction
of the station at Tumpuna Road, opposite the
Construction began at the site about four
years ago, but according to vice president of
the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA),
Rannison Burnett, they had no clue it was the
proposed site for an NP gas station.
“During this time we made a lot of enquiries
tion. But this poses much danger to students
and teachers and to the environment,” Burnett
said during a press conference at the Arima
Town Hall on Tuesday.
“There are concerns for the safety of the
community and facilities like this tend to not
work out where health is concerned,” he added.
Also present at the press conference was
Arima Mayor Lisa Morris-Julian, Arima MP
and Education Minister Anthony Garcia and
D’abadie/O’Meara MP Ancil Antoine.
Burnett said he believes the project did not
receive proper scrutiny although some approv-
als were acquired. He, however, called for the
project to be reassessed.
“One of the major concerns with this is the
miscommunication with regards to the whole
construction from 2013 to now. I only recall one
notice which NGC (the National Gas Company)
had informing of a gas pipeline construction and
the traffic restrictions it would entail. Even at
that point in time we did not know it was for a
gas station. The level of danger posed is clear
and present,” Burnett said.
Garcia, who also spoke in the capacity of Ed-
ucation Minister, said he had been a member
of the council for five years and he knew that
no statutory approval was given by the Arima
“This is a very serious matter and things like
this need approval from the Borough Council, as
the health of the children cannot be bypassed,”
He said he met with the chairman of the Pres-
byterian Board last Saturday and was told that
if the necessary statutory approvals had been
obtained, based on that there existed no prob-
lem. However, he said he would still be open to
discussions on the matter.
“I say we have a little more discussions. The
communication lines are blurred somewhere,
but there should be an amicable solution to this
problem in the interest of all parties,” Garcia
“It is very clear there is need for dialogue. We
must involve the chief executive officer of the
Arima Borough, the Arima Mayor and Council-
lors, we must involve NP, the owner of the gas
station, the PTA, the Presbyterian Board and
the MP. I feel if we have such a meeting we will
come to an amicable solution. We must ensure
that dialogue takes place as a matter or urgency.”
Antoine said he hoped for a quick solution.
“Somebody dropped the ball, whether it is
NGC, NP, the Presbyterian Board, Town and
Country Planning, the corporation, somebody
dropped the ball. You don’t build a gas station
next to a school. All sorts of scenarios can take
place from disasters to health concerns for the
Morris-Julian said in order to ensure the
safety of the children, she would want to re-
view the process, “because it is important that
something like this doesn’t ever happen again—
the miscommunication with state agencies, the
Borough Council and the community.”
She noted that under the act, any building
that was not approved by council had to pay a
fine of $1000 a day, “ but like I stated before,
administrative arms approved different aspects
of the plan. The building would have had to be
approved by Town and Country Planning and
we can’t approve something unless Town and
Country approves something.”
Efforts to reach the gas station’s owner up
to yesterday were unsuccessful.
leave to challenge
A High Court Judge has given a teacher per-
mission to sue the Teaching Service Commission
(TSC) over suspending and initiating discipli-
nary proceedings against her for disciplining
a student she claims sexually assaulted her in
Justice Ricky Rahim on Thursday granted permis-
sion for Adana Leonard, of Point Fortin, to initiate
judicial review proceedings against the TSC, who she
is claiming acted unreasonably and unfairly towards
According to court documents filed by her attorney
Gerald Ramdeen, Leonard said the incident with the
student occurred on September 23, 2014, while she
was a teaching assistant at the Pleasantville Second-
Leonard claimed she was talking to two students in
the corridor of the school during its morning break
when the student (name withheld) walked behind
her, grabbed her buttocks and then ran away.
“I was shocked, surprised, annoyed and most of
all embarrassed when this occurred. I considered
that this act by the student was highly disrespectful
behaviour that should not be tolerated and should
not go unpunished, as it was clearly an attack on the
opposite sex,” Leonard said in her witness statement.
Leonard said when she tracked down the student
and confronted him over the incident, he dismissed
her and attempted to walk away, prompting her to
grab his shirt sleeve. She claimed that the student
eventually apologised and admitted he did the act
as a prank to entertain his friends.
She later reported the incident to the Mon Repos
Police Station, but could not say if legal action was
taken against the student.
A month later, Leonard was informed that she was
suspended as a misconduct allegation had been made
“This was the most depressing day of my working
career. I could not understand how anyone could make
an allegation of misconduct having regard to what
transpired that day,” she said.
Leonard noted that while she was suspended, she
pursued post graduate qualifications and was success-
fully interviewed by the TSC for the post of Teacher
III (Secondary) in December 2015. However, she could
not take up the post because of her suspension and
the allegation hanging over her.
Leonard decided to file the lawsuit after the TSC
wrote to her in February this year indicating that it
was investigating the allegation and would institute
disciplinary proceedings against her for assaulting
“The entire ordeal has been very stressful, humil-
iating and depressing to me. The fact that I was sus-
pended for this incident is a stain on my professional
career that will not and cannot be removed,” Leonard
said, as he stated her reputation could not be repaired
even if the charges were eventually cleared by the TSC.
In her lawsuit, Leonard is also claiming she received
a warning letter when she attempted to contact the
two students who witnessed the incident to testify in
her defence. She is claiming the TSC acted unfairly
in taking two years to initiate the disciplinary pro-
ceedings and investigation against her.
“It is not fair to me for the TSC, after a period of
more than two years, to simply reactivate an investi-
gation in which they have taken no step for the past
two years and have shown no interest,” Leonard said.
During the hearing, Justice Rahim granted Leonard
a stay of the disciplinary hearing pending the outcome
of the lawsuit.
Leonard is also being represented by Sean Sobers.
The case will come up for next hearing on April 24.
Education Minister, Anthony Garcia, second left, speaks with Arima Mayor Lisa Morris-
Julian, as Arima Presbyterian School PTA vice president Rennison Burnette, left, and
D’abadie O’meara MP Ancil Antoine and education officer of the Arima Presbyterian
School Westley Williams, right, look on during Tuesday’s press conference.
PHOTO: AYANNA KINSALE
Gas station goes up near Arima school
Student confronted for
touching her butt...
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