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Education Ministry promises 'serious action' against Pembroke Hall High teacher who threatened student with violence

Minister Karl Samuda; The Pembroke Hall High School teacher involved in the incident; JTA President Owen Speid
 
Karl Samuda, Minister with responsibility for Education, has said strong action will be taken against a Pembroke Hall High School teacher who was captured on video threatening a student with physical harm.
 
He said her behaviour is unacceptable and has no place in schools.
 
Mr. Samuda said teachers employed in the public education system are expected to act with professionalism and decorum despite challenges dealing with difficult or uncooperative students. 
 
"It is quite disgraceful and indicates the level to which someone charged with the responsibility of teaching our youngsters should not, in any way, allow themselves to descend to that kind of language and attitude. So, it's something on which serious action will be taken," he said. 
 
Mr. Samuda said a meeting is set for early next week with the school's administration to discuss the incident and take action against the teacher "because (she) cannot continue to operate in the classroom." 
 
He said Thursday's incident suggests there might be need for a comprehensive review of all teachers "to determine exactly whether or not there are these weaknesses that exist in the system that need to be corrected as quickly as possible." 
 
He argued that the incident sent the message that perhaps "this attitude accounts for some of the results that we're seeing coming out of the system." 
 
The administration of Pembroke Hall High has said it has already started investigating the incident.
 
Principal of the school, Reverend Claude Ellis, confirmed that the incident occurred on Thursday, but said he was made aware of the video Friday morning.
 
Teacher explains 
 
Meanwhile, the teacher seen in the video has sought to explain her outburst.
 
In a voice note, she said the incident stemmed from a complaint by a female student in another class.
 
She said the male student continued shouting insults to her as well as the female student despite repeated orders to remain quiet.
 
"What you saw in the video was when the girl came back from Mr. Salmon with the report, handed it back to me and said Mr. Salmon read it... (The boy) started again, hurling insults at the girl and shouting at me, and that is when I lost it and responded to him," she explained. 
 
According to the Gleaner, when it contacted the teacher Friday afternoon, she declined to comment further, saying she was advised not to speak on the matter.
 
The 2:20 minutes cell phone video begins with the teacher seated at her desk in the middle of a lesson.
 
She is interrupted by a student, who hands her a piece of paper.
 
While she is speaking to the student, a boy says another student is telling lies on him. 
 
The irate teacher, responding to the boy, says: "Weh yah shout offa me fah? Mi look like yuh mumma?" 
 
When the student takes offence to the teacher's reference to his mother, she continues to deride him, then says: "Me will kill yuh in yah, yuh hear? My head nuh nice." 
 
She then proceeds to chase the student from the class. 
 
'Disturbing' 
 
Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) President Owen Speid has said the incident is disturbing.
 
Mr. Speid, who was speaking Friday on the Morning Agenda on Power 106, said the JTA expects professional behaviour from all stakeholders in the education system. 
 
"It would seem that the teacher in question here really needs some help. I would think too, that just listening to what was happening in the room, that some of the children in our society, and not just at this school, need help too in understanding how to deal with conflicts and how to resolve conflicts," he said. 
 
Mr. Speid noted that anger has taken over the society, pointing to the physical assault of teachers at three schools this month. 
 
"I really do believe that the time as come for us to look in a very serious way at introducing anger management programmes as part of the curriculum and to introduce it for the children and to have more workshop seminars and whatever it takes to empower teachers as well as to empower parents to understand that, to resolve conflicts, you don't have to resort to violence," he asserted. 
 


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