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Sep 14, 2017

St. Martin de Porres R.C. Principal Gets Rude Welcome with Grenade Threat

Police circled the area of Saint Martin’s school in Belize City since six this morning.  Parents kept most of the seven hundred students away from the school since it is better to be safe than sorry. Since Wednesday night, there was alarm over a post on social media that threatened that the school would be blown up with a grenade to welcome the new principal.  But a sweep this morning confirmed the threat was a hoax. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The scene outside of St. Martin de Porres School this morning was rather unusual, as law enforcement officers visibly established their presence around the perimeter of the compound.  For students attending classes here today, the sight of a checkpoint is most peculiar since Partridge Street is often free of police activity.  But the school is taking no chances, following the posting of an ominous message on social media on Wednesday.

 

Annie Palacio

Annie Palacio, Principal, St. Martin de Porres School

“When I got the message I called my management and from there we called the authorities and they quickly, Mrs. Phillips-Magdaleno took everything into a strategic plan, as they would do as officers, and dispatched officers here this morning.  From about six o’clock they were here and they did a sweep of the area to ensure that it was safe for the staff and faculty along with the children to come onboard.  And they did a sweep and found that there was absolutely nothing harmful hear on the grounds.”

 

On the surface it appears to be just another bomb threat.  For incoming principal Annie Palacio, it’s the first major obstacle she would have to overcome since start of the academic year last week.  The school administrator was scheduled to meet with parents this evening.

 

Annie Palacio

“We do have safety plans that are in place for their children for things like this and that as an educational institution we will not allow fear to keep us hostage. We live in a society where yes we have a high crime rate, violence is very high but we must maintain some type of composure and that’s what we are doing and that’s why we have plans in place to assist our children.  We have counselors who, the counselor that came to assist our children, even our teachers on hand.  We have the authorities who are around continuously for the entire day and we have to let them know that yes, these things unfortunately occur which is a cowardly act, but we will insure that we put plans in place to quell the fear and to let them know that their children are safe here.”

 

Given the threat of harm, only a handful of students showed up today.  A majority opted to stay away until the matter is resolved.

 

Annie Palacio

“We have over seven hundred students in our school and unfortunately, or maybe not, our parents have all the options to have their children at home if they feel very fearful.  Right now we have a little over a hundred or so in class and I must applaud my teachers, they’re all here today, along with my management, for support.  But we want to say again to our parents that are grounds is safe and our classes will go on.  The authorities are here and we’re ensuring that your children are safe, but the parents do have the option to have their children home if they feel fearful.”

 

It’s a baptism of fire, a difficult and dangerous first experience for Palacio which she has successfully overcome.  A bigger challenge for this newcomer is turning the school around academically.  The quality and soundness of what is being taught at St. Martin’s leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Annie Palacio

“We have the first start with the support from parents.  We have to let them know that this is not a school where we’re just going to leave our teachers to do all the work, they have to help us.  That’s one, and we have to let the community know that they are a part of the school.  That’s two.  And then three, we need to put interventions in place for academic success which we have [done] from the beginning of the school year.  Literacy programs are in place and we have volunteers that are coming in from the States that are here to help us.  So we have assessed what is going on in the school and we have put things in place to help us to have an academic career.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “St. Martin de Porres R.C. Principal Gets Rude Welcome with Grenade Threat”

  1. Mike G says:

    Why wasn’t the K9 Unit deployed? The U.S. donated the dogs, equipment, and training several years back. I wonder if the unit is even still active? I feel sorry for the dogs.

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