Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 20th 2014 Contents A5
Thursday, March 20, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Nine students of the ASJA Boys
College, Charlieville, who were
allegedly involved in a fight during
gang violence in the school on
Tuesday, were each yesterday
granted $3,000 bail on the con-
dition that they report to the
police station once a week.
One of the boys mother col-
lapsed in court after the police
prosecutor expressed concern for
the safety of other students and
recommended that the teenagers
be sent to a correction facility for
Each charged with disturbing the
peace by fighting, the boys---aged
14, 15, 16, 17---pleaded not guilty
when they appeared before
Chaguanas Third Court Magistrate
Two of the boys are Form Five
students while the others are in
Form Four. They were all suspended
following the incident.
In asking for bail, attorney Tara-
dath Singh said the teenagers were
trying to help two boys who were
being beaten by other students.
Singh said the teenagers were first-
time offenders and have the support
of members of the institution.
However, police prosecutor Sgt
Ken Ali countered that the boys
were members of a gang in the
He said the students have been
suspended before for a series of
indisciplined acts, including fight-
ing, assault, smoking, having explo-
sive devices and disorderly conduct.
He said two were suspended eight
times, another seven times and two
others six times.
Ali said the incident started with
two gangs involving students from
Forms Four and Five on Friday. He
said the accused disrupt school
activities on a daily basis.
Under the Young Offenders Act,
he said the students could be sent
to an industrial school, where they
could be taught moral, spiritual and
The school s vice-principal, Mr
Rahaman, who was in the court,
told the magistrate that increased
violence at the school had been
going on for a week now.
He recalled that a student
involved in one of the gangs
brought outsiders to beat up anoth-
er child in the school.
He said weapons, including
knives, were used in Monday s inci-
dent and the matter had been
reported to the police.
The magistrate said it was sad
to see that ASJA, which has an
excellent record, was being sullied
through the act.
That could be expected of a
school like Mucurapo - also cur-
rently the subject of a probe into
violence - he said, but he expected
better standards from ASJA.
A parent in court claimed that
her son was being victimised by
one of the deans. Another claimed
his son was beaten up and had to
be sent for therapy.
Singh said some of the parents
have opted to take their children
out of school.
The vice-principal agreed that
remanding the teenagers into cus-
tody was too harsh.
"I will not tolerate any violence,
any hang thing or any disruption
in schools," Dubay said.
Bail was granted with their par-
ents as surety. They were ordered
to report to the Chaguanas Police
Station on Saturdays and the matter
was adjourned to April 16.
The Form Two student who
was the main victim in last
Friday s fight outside the
Mucurapo West Government
Secondary School is expected
to be transferred to another
school, her mother Chrislyn
Fairbairn said yesterday.
She also expressed concern
that repeated complaints to the
school s authorities, including
the principal, had gone unheed-
ed.Fairbairn said since her
daughter was in Form One she
had been beaten and repeatedly
threatened by a gang of female
students who were known bul-
lies at the school.
"From day one when all this
happened, I have been going to
the dean and the principal.
Every time is the victim s family
keep coming and not the par-
ents of the girls who doing the
beating," Fairbairn told the T&T
"Instructions would be given
to hand out suspension letters
and then everything would go
back to normal."
She said last term she got
information her daughter was
the target of a beating and when
she went to the police to make
a report, she was referred to the
Community Policing Unit and
to the Education Ministry.
"The reason we got is that
they were minors," Fairbairn
She said her daughter also
started staying away from
school on Fridays, as beatings
occurred particularily on that
"Then the form teacher
called me to say I should send
her to school because exams
coming up, so I sent her and
the poor child get beaten," Fair-
She said her daughter was
attacked by some 21 female stu-
dents as she made her way
home last Friday.
"My daughter is five feet, one
and she is about 105 pounds if
so much. If wasn t for her
friends who jumped in to help
her things would have been
much worse," Fairbairn added.
Ten female students have
been suspended pending the
outcome of an investigation by
the Ministry of Education. The
matter is also now being probed
by the police.
Acting Police Commissioner
Stephen Williams says the file
on the schoolgirl fight will be
sent to head of Western Division
Senior Sup Ishmael David.
In a telephone interview yes-
terday, Williams said he could
not make any statements on
whether criminal charges would
be laid, as he had not seen the
statements from the students
or saw the video.
On the broader issue of
school violence, Williams said
that kind of behaviour was rep-
rehensible. But at the same
time, he said , treating such
incidents immediately with the
full force of the law should be
the last resort.
He added: "At the end of the
day these are children going to
school. Their behaviour is totally
unacceptable but this does not
change the fact that they are
"We also have to look care-
fully at what may have triggered
such violence... whether it may
problems at the homes, prob-
lems in the community and we
have to make every effort to
find solutions to these prob-
If Opposition Leader Dr Keith Row-
ley becomes Prime Minister, then stu-
dents who are prone to violent behav-
iour could see themselves being
removed from the school system and
placed in an environment akin to a
"boot camp" where they can be prop-
Declaring that a People s National
Movement (PNM) government would
declare zero tolerance on school vio-
lence, Rowley outlined that at an inter-
nal election campaign meeting in Palo
Seco on Tuesday as one of his party s
strategies to deal with students who
were disruptive and put others at risk.
He added: "We are prepared to iden-
tify the problem and to take action to
"The time for talk and niceties has
passed. If you cannot behave in the
school system then you forfeit your
right to be there. You have invited your-
self into another system."
Referring to the public brawl between
girls at the Mucurapo West Secondary
School, ten of whom have since been
suspended, Rowley asked when the
violence would end.
"I am hearing tonight, from the
mother of a child who was on the
ground, this has been going on for two
"When is it supposed to end and
how is it supposed to end? When one
of them bring a little knife or something
in school, or a divider or something
and the next thing we hear is murder
number 110 is one child stab the other
child because the system turned a blind
eye to something that is chronic.
"We will have to intervene and the
intervention comes under the banner
of zero tolerance to violence in our
school system," he said.
Rowley reminded his audience that
one of the slogans of the PNM s found-
ing father, the late Dr Eric Williams,
was: "To educate is to liberate."
He told supporters from the La Brea
and bordering constituencies: "Let us
not lose sight of this fact that the
strength of this country going forward
is based on the soundness of our edu-
cation system. We must no longer allow
ourselves to tinker with it."
Saying he was appalled at the behav-
iour, Rowley said he would like to see
a system where that kind of behaviour
deprives the violent students of the
opportunity they were abusing.
He added: "You should be extracted
from the environment where you are
misbehaving and put into another envi-
ronment where you are being prepared
to give up that kind of life you want
to embark upon."
For this to happen, Rowley said, there
must be special educational facilities
along with special teachers to manage
"The next PNM government will
detail zero tolerance of violence in our
secondary schools, zero tolerance of
any violence in our school system, and
that means we will have to prepare
special educational facilities for special
"Special children are not only the
ones who don t see well, who don t
hear well and who don t walk well.
Children who can t behave well are
also special children," he said.
Rowley said with people demanding
a right to misbehave, if a solution is
not found, then the Education and
National Security Ministries would
continue to be a drain on the Treas-
After violence at ASJA Boys...
$3,000 bail each for nine students
People's National Movement (PNM) political leader Dr Keith Rowley holds four-
year-old Kellyann Bailey in his arms as supporter Utilda Wharwood hugs him
after he arrived at the Palo Seco Secondary School for a political meeting on
Tuesday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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