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Siparia West Secondary School
principal Sookoo Sonnylal says
he is resolute in his stance of con-
fronting indiscipline in his school.
Sonnylal made the statement
while speaking to reporters out-
side the Hall of Justice, Port-of-
Spain, yesterday, moments after
High Court Judge Devindra Ramp-
ersad ordered he be allowed to re-
sume duties at the school after he
was removed earlier this month
following a verbal confrontation
with a group of students.
Sonnylal said: "That situation
occurs all the time in the school
and if I have to deal with the stu-
dents and discipline the student
I will do it again, because it is my
job to make sure that the physi-
cal safety of every child lies in
my hand as the principal of that
However, he admitted he may
take a fresh approach to disciplin-
ing students in the future.
"The Education Act gives me
the authority to be the protec-
tor of all the students in terms of
safety and security so I will do it
again but maybe a little different
this time," he said.
Sonnylal, a former student of
the school where he has been
employed for the past 25 years,
said he was elated by the out-
come, but flabbergasted by the
action taken against him in the
"I am passionate about that
school and I need to go back to
work and that is what the judge
has ordered, that I go back to
work from tomorrow morning,"
Yesterday's hearing stemmed
from Sonnylal's judicial review
lawsuit which he iled against the
Ministry of Education. His law-
yers contended that the ministry
acted outside its remit when it
instructed him to report to the
St Patrick District Education Of-
ice in San Fernando pending its
investigation after a video of the
incident was circulated on social
media earlier this month. They
claimed that such power was
vested in the Teaching Service
When the case came up for
hearing before Rampersad yes-
terday, State attorney Monica
Smith indicated that Sonnylal was
never removed or transferred by
the ministry as claimed by his
Sonnylal's lawyer Anand Ram-
logan, SC, objected as he pointed
out his client was constructively
suspended by the ministry as it
effectively removed him from the
school and relieved him of duties.
"You have taken away his
power and left him with just a
name," Rampersad said as he
pointed out the school's vice
principal was ordered to assume
Ramlogan agreed to withdraw
the case as Smith conceded
that Sonnylal may return to the
"All we really wanted is for him
to go to work in the morning.
They could have done this and
saved us the trouble of coming
here," Ramlogan said.
Smith claimed the ministry
should not be made to pay Sonny-
lal's legal costs as his lawsuit was
premature. Rampersad disagreed
and granted the order for costs.
Sonnylal was also represented
by Jiyanti Lutchmedial, Douglas
Bayley and Ganesh Saroop.
Garcia urges school principals
Education Minister Anthony Gar-
cia has once again made the call
to principals to enforce the ban
on cell phones with cameras in
all schools. The only cell phones
which will be allowed into schools
will be those without cameras.
Garcia made the call in the
wake of an incident involving two
Form Two students at Fatima Col-
lege, Port-of-Spain, who were re-
corded in an act being described
as a children's prank.
The video, which was subse-
quently posted on social media,
incensed many, with some ex-
pressing the concern one of the
boys had been sexually assaulted
by the other.
Yesterday, Garcia said the latest
incident had driven home why
the cell phone ban should be en-
forced. He said the videotaping of
incidents in schools could have
dire consequences, adding that
the two students "could be la-
belled for life."
"They were engaging in child's
play...a normal thing for boys that
age to engage in that kind of play,"
He said the parents of the stu-
dents had also agreed it was
child's play and were satis ied no
harm was done.
Garcia said the ban on cell
phones with cameras in schools
had been the ministry's policy for
the past ten years but it was up to
the principals to ensure this was
done. He said it was also the re-
sponsibility of school supervisors
to liaise with principals to ensure
the policy was carried out.
Pressed on why principals had
not been enforcing the policy,
Garcia said it was not for him to
answer but rather the various
school administrators, as this was
part of the operational aspect.
act as child’s play
Meanwhile, the principal at
the centre of the latest incident
which sparked Garcia's latest
edict, Fatima College Fr Gregory
Augustine, said it was unfortu-
nate because someone in the class
ilmed the incident, which was
against school regulations as cell
phones with cameras were not
In speaking about the inci-
dent, Augustine said, "I am really
amazed in the kind of interest
that people have in a two-second
video and that people can come
to a judgment from two seconds.
"This is a boy playing the fool.
He was spoken to and that's it.
He acted foolishly, imprudently
and he was spoken to with his
He said it was unfortunate the
"foolish play" was being termed
as "rape" by some who saw it on
"I really don't understand...
how people could form an opin-
ion from two seconds...and for
people to come up with a thesis.
I really ind it odd and we need
to be much more discerning," Au-
Asked about why the student
was screaming when the act was
being performed on him, Augus-
tine said one must understand
the context in which the incident
"People don't know. The
screaming was part of the play
and children do scream and carry
on. He may not have liked it...
what I'm saying is he was not as-
saulted, he was not hospitalised,
he was not traumatised," he said.
He added: "People are not will-
ing to step back and think. Every-
body is rushing to say...rape...
abuse....not everything is that,
particularly when the clip is so
short. They need to ask appro-
priate questions and ind out and
you cannot hide anything today."
He assured there were no cov-
er-ups on the part of the school,
saying, "Everything is out there."
He also said he himself had
nothing to hide.
Augustine said the families of
both boys were satis ied the mat-
ter was appropriately handled,
adding that boys were "back to
school and normal."
On whether the incident may
have tainted the school's image,
Augustine said: "Children play
the fool in every school. The issue
here is a child playing the fool and
in every institution when children
play the fool they are corrected
On whether he was worried
that the boy who committed the
act could engage in inappropriate
behaviour against other students,
Augustine said he was not.
"I am not worried about that
at all because he understood his
wrong. He has learnt his lesson.
He felt badly and more so now as
it went viral," he said.
"This is a regular child who is
quite well adjusted who is very
much into sports. He is not a
"This is not about Fatima be-
cause it is a boy school...this has
always happened since time im-
Siparia West Secondary School principal Sookoo Sonnylal, left, chats with his
lawyer Anand Ramlogan, SC, outside the Hall of Justice, Knox Street, Port-of-
PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ
Enforce ban on camera phones
Principal returns to Siparia West Sec
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