Education and Litigation

2016 will be remembered by the BU household for the massive disruption in the school system as a result of the always on industrial conflict between the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) trade unions and the ministry of education. We are of the certain view that there is or will be a price society will have to pay because of the inability of our ‘leaders’ to competently resolve challenges/conflicts tossed up by the sector from time to time.

Nine days have passed and most Barbadians have forgotten about the two widely publicised cases of two students who were enrolled at Ellerslie and Springer Memorial Secondary schools, disciplined by the principals, and it resulted in acerbic exchanges between the Ministry of Education, Parents, Unions and the public. BU will not rehash the two incidents just to surmise that leadership in the education sector by the ministry of education and the unions is sorely lacking.

It is important for school management everywhere to note that what is deemed to be deviant behaviour in the school system will require careful handling by those responsible in the future. Our societies have moved from adopting a collegial approach to one of being litigious. While all parties take comfort in having an arbiter of last resort such cases should be kept to a minimum given the negative impact on the minds of our citizens of tomorrow. This can only be achieved IF the parties act based on clearly defined codes of behaviour.

Against the foregoing a High Court Decision delivered by Justice Madame Lanns P in St. Vincent July 2016 is instructive. She rendered that the decision by the ministry responsible to transfer a  14 year old third former was improper and done so unfairly. The imbroglio started when the student responded to a comment by a teacher that her work was untidy to which the student noted (in writing) “like you kitty cat weh na wash’’.

Read full details of the case

Document One and Two (Credit: Buddy Cal)

The learning from the St. Vincent case and all the others that have occurred is that it calls for published procedures to be be followed meticulously by all parties. Manage the disputes devoid of emotion and political opportunism. We are seeing a level of dysfunction occurring in high places on regular basis that does not bode well for the kind of wholesome society we want to build (wink: that was a mantra to win votes). Related and recent examples can be seen with the NCC matter that was deferred by the Labour Department and recommended by the Prime Minister to the Employment Rights Tribunal although that entity was not correctly setup to deliver justice. We should not forget the Alexandra matter was as a result of negligence by the minister of education Ronald Jones who delayed to act on a report for several months. Up to now the recommendations in the Waterman Report have not been implemented and if BU information is correct the matter is under judicial review. Example after example can be found to show how our leaders have acted with ignorance and inefficiently.

The education sector is responsible for a significant allocation in the national budget, we deserve more, we deserve better.  With a general election looming these are the kinds of issues the citizenry needs to become more engaged. The consequences for not holding the players accountable will be huge as we have started to witness.

Tags: ,

19 Comments on “Education and Litigation”

  1. Well Well & Consequences September 21, 2016 at 8:54 AM #

    The stench stsrts from the leaders and trickles right down into the society.


  2. ac September 21, 2016 at 9:55 AM #

    This is an interesting ruling in that when the long arm of law reaches out to supress the disciplinary actions of the Education system despite childs unruly behaviour we have a problem here
    Yes one can holdfast to procedures but not when violations are so egregious and have extended their limit which then requires futher action in avoidance of futher disruption within the learning enviroment
    This case holds all the trademarks for quick action required based on a childs disruptive ongoing behaviour and her torrid disrespect for school laws and guidance
    The court might only have gotten one part right but still to be settled how can an educational systems function whose disciplianry rules are to effect and give cause to corrective measures are to be enacted when the long arm of the law request that every dot must be in order placing special rights to a disruptive child


  3. Bernard Codrington. September 21, 2016 at 11:07 AM #

    E. W. Barrow once warned that if one wants justice one does not go to the Law Courts…..unless of course you have a King Solomon on the bench. Back in the day that child would have been expelled by the Principal and all the Principal would have had to do is report it to his Board of Governors. How times have changed? And not for the better!


  4. Bernard Codrington. September 21, 2016 at 11:12 AM #

    Tidiness of work was one of the things that teachers used to impart to children . Has this too been removed from their job descriptions?


  5. David September 21, 2016 at 11:17 AM #

    You are missing the point. What is unraveling has nothing to do with teacher’s job description, we have become a contentious and litigious society. If the teachers want to discipline then the declared procedure has to be followed and even then there is no guarantee it will not be tested in court.


  6. Bush Tea September 21, 2016 at 11:20 AM #

    @ Bernard
    The judge is a woman ent it?
    Emotionalism rules the day.

    She probably would have made a good mother and wife, but being a judge calls for cold, RATIONAL, results-oriented thinking…..

    Even most of the lotta so-called-men bout the place don’t measure up …far less the emotion driven women who were designed to play critical roles in nurturing children….

    This is 90% of the problem in Barbados too…


  7. David September 21, 2016 at 12:22 PM #

    @Bush Tea

    The Judge would have supported her ruling with case law. If she applied a flawed interpretation there is recourse to appeal.


  8. ac September 21, 2016 at 12:47 PM #

    What case law not good enough for you to cite “case law”without presenting the proof.
    Now all must rely on whst you belive that the judges ruling would have relied upon forming a decision.A decision which is conducive and conclusive in giving special rights of privilege to a disobedient and unruly child while dismissing the facts and nature upon which the school had a right to expell the child


  9. pieceuhderockyeahright September 21, 2016 at 1:22 PM #

    Looka dere was a certain headmaster from whom the chore of taking the chalk that he was holding in his hands was one that required great determination (based on the smell that the chalk always had)

    I ent calling no names.

    I cud see me now telling he “please sir, I ent touching dat chalk causing is smell like man size balls or some disrespectful remark!!’

    He was gine give me a flogging.

    Den, he was gine sen me home to me mudda who was gine give me a licking

    Den, when my faddah get home I was gine get a nex beating

    And look sharp every morning dat i get in de school yard I mighta was gine get a licking dat morning from me faddah when he drop me off.

    Proportionate Responses a thing which when you observe Donald Trump employing is noticeably absent but should inform on (a) what that childrun are is leaning well student would feel at liberty to respond and (b) the response of the school and (c) you mudda and your fadda.

    You know I did not fear the teachers of my day.

    I feared my parents so i knew that if i had to go home and relate an incident I had to be 200% right and even then they would say “doan mind de lick you get, dem going build character”

    There is however the other side of the coin to be considered in all things but to voice openly, to the teacher ““like you kitty cat weh na wash’’ whuloss I would not have lived to see 16!!

    We have shifted the value systems from another clime to our society and unfortunately we can never get back to less litigation or behaviours that are appropriate to the circumstances.


  10. David September 21, 2016 at 1:49 PM #

    Here is another article on the matter:

    Historic Decision In Student’s Case

    Left:Attorney Jomo Thomas described the ruling as having demonstrated what the schools can or cannot do, in respect of the punishment and discipline of students under their charge. Right:High Court Judge (Ag.) Perletta Lanns handed down a ruling that may just have set precedent here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
    By: Haydn Huggins•Fri, Jul 22, 2016
    Attorney Jomo Thomas has described as historic, the recent judgement of High Court Judge (Ag.)

    Perletta Lanns in the case in which the claimant Merlene Allen, represented by Thomas, sought judicial review of a decision by state and school officials here, to transfer her daughter Alenia Allen from the St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown (SJCK) to the Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia (EHSM), three years ago

    In a 23-page written judgement delivered on Tuesday, July 19, Justice Lanns issued an order quashing the decision to transfer the student from the St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown and the expulsion of the student from both Convent High Schools administered by the Cluny Board of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    Justice Lanns also ordered that if the parties cannot agree on costs, they may make brief submissions within 30 days of the date of receipt of a sealed copy of the decision.

    The Attorney General’s Office represented Chief Education Officer Lou-Ann Gilchrist (CEO), Senior Education Officer Secondary Schools Asfo Stephens (SEO), Principal St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown, Calma Bascombe, and the Ministry of Education; while the other defendant, the Cluny Board of Management, was represented by Attorney Duane Daniel.

    Speaking with THE VINCENTIAN on Wednesday, Thomas explained that the decision was historic in that it demonstrated what the state and private schools can or cannot do, in respect of the punishment and discipline of students who are under their charge.

    Thomas said that historically, these arbitrary forms of punishment and disciplinary decisions may affect the life chances of students, and many times, the parents and guardians thought they had no recourse.
    But Thomas pointed out that this case demonstrates that they could challenge the decision of the state and school officials, and, based on the facts of the case, may succeed.

    The matter was heard on March 26, May 13, June 2 and July 3 last year, but Justice Lanns had reserved judgement.
    In her written judgement, Justice Lanns concluded that she was satisfied that the claimant had shown that her right to be heard or to a fair hearing had been infringed.

    “Not only did the defendants fail to give the claimant notice of the meeting to transfer/expel the student from the SJCK, so that she could adequately prepare herself, but they failed to give her reasons for the decision to transfer/expel”, the Judge stated.

    “Even if the defendants had no duty to give reasons, (as the defendents have submitted), this did not affect their duty to act fairly. In coming to their decision to transfer/expel, the defendants took irrelevant factors into account, and failed to consider relevant factors. As a consequence of the defendants’ failure to consider relevant factors, the student was met with punishment that was excessive and disproportionate, having regard to the purported conduct of the student, and the sanctions for such conduct specified in the handbook”, the Judge added.
    Thomas told THE VINCENTIAN that, based on legal intervention, the student had attended the Thomas Saunders Secondary School in Kingstown instead of Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia. She is currently a student of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College.


  11. ac September 21, 2016 at 1:57 PM #

    Normalcy ..decency and respect flew right out the door with the judges ruling.
    That judge should be ordered to take up teaching in one of ST.Vincents inner cities schools .there is where she would understand the problems that are systematic to unruly behaviour that if left uncheck can create chaos across by board spreading like wild fire in every school


  12. David September 21, 2016 at 2:55 PM #

    New leak reveals offshore companies in Bahamas

    Photo: Shutterstock

    New leak reveals Bahamas offshore secrets

    New revelations published today by ICIJ, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and news organizations from Europe, South America, Asia and Africa reveal fresh information about offshore companies in the Bahamas.

    The leaked Bahamian files reveal details of the offshore activities of prime ministers, ministers, princes and convicted felons.

    Alongside detailed reporting, ICIJ is making details from the Bahamas corporate registry available to the public. This creates, for the first time, a free, online and publicly-searchable database of offshore companies set up in the island nation that has sometimes been called “The Switzerland of the West.” 

    Read more and explore the data


  13. Bush Tea September 21, 2016 at 2:58 PM #

    @ David
    The Judge would have supported her ruling with case law. If she applied a flawed interpretation there is recourse to appeal.
    Sometime you does mek real sport Boss….
    But if you think you mekking Bushie sin he soul today… yuh lie…. 🙂


  14. Well Well & Consequences September 21, 2016 at 3:52 PM #

    ACs…there is a blood drive in Barbados today, they need immediate donations of blood…

    …did yall give any…

    ….make yall selves useful…..go give some blood instead of on here spouting rubbish.


  15. ac September 21, 2016 at 4:00 PM #

    ac is a vampire ac takes blood does not give blood


  16. Well Well & Consequences September 21, 2016 at 4:09 PM #

    “Today ICIJ, Süddeutsche Zeitung and other media partners are making this information available to the public. This creates, for the first time, a free, online and publicly-searchable database of offshore companies set up in the Bahamas. This information has been combined with data from the Panama Papers and other leaked offshore documents to add additional heft to one of the largest public databases of offshore entities in history.”



  17. Well Well & Consequences September 21, 2016 at 4:11 PM #

    Soon yall will have nothing more to take, yall will be out on ya parasitic asses…soon come ACs…soon come.


  18. Well Well & Consequences September 21, 2016 at 4:15 PM #

    “Ponzi schemers and other large-scale fraudsters routinely use offshore havens to pull off their shell games and move their ill-gotten gains.”



  19. ac September 21, 2016 at 9:08 PM #

    Parents today fear the children, and now it seems that the same level of fear is being exhibited in the court system as judges take up a defensive role of protectionism in favor of children/s wrong doings despite all the relevant evidence presenting and showing that the childs behavior was in violation of the rules and policies of the school on several occasion, What is mostly telling is the judges total disregard for the school policies and reasons for expulsion but rather choose to explore and underscore the area of insufficiency towards the child’s hearing despite incidents drawn showing that the child failed in the delivering a written message to the mother for a meeting with school officials


Join in the discussion, you never know how expressing your view may make a difference.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: