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Mar 28, 2019

Students Stage an Impromptu Protest in Support of Terminated Teachers

Over a hundred students from the Bishop Martin High School staged an impromptu protest this morning as the situation at the high school continues to deteriorate. Four teachers, whose employment status was unclear and who carried a sit out from the beginning of the week, were sent home via a letter from the Board. When word spread, students protested outside the school grounds.  They moved inside the school compound, but the protest was soon broken up by the police. The students say they have now obtained a permit, and will return to demonstrate on Friday. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

This morning, over a hundred students did not attend classes at the Bishop Martin High School in Orange Walk. Instead, they organized a protest outside of the school compound, chanting for answers after four of their teachers were temporarily terminated on Wednesday afternoon. The teachers were issued letters by the board requesting that they remove themselves from the campus immediately. This has the students up in arms and today as early as eight a.m., without a permit, they began their protest. They were initially informed by the police, who were called in by the administration, to come onto the compound. Minutes later, they were asked to leave because they were disrupting classes. Even so, the group did not disperse until around eleven-thirty.


Rojan Flowers

Rojan Flowers, 4th Form Student, Bishop Martin High School

“The teachers and us, the students of that school, are being brought injustice and you see, we are standing up for what’s right. I am certain that many other students who are still sitting down in that class want to be here so bad, but they fear it. And you see we are the ones who stand strong. And we invite them all to come out here even though because we will continue this for as long as it takes. Am I right? Yes. Tomorrow we will be continuing this, we will be legal and we will be showing them what the power of positivity and the students can do together.”


As a senior, Rojan Flowers says that it is important for their voices to be heard.


Rojan Flowers

“We have exams coming up right after Easter break. We have to prepare, get our final preparations, understand what the exams will be like and actually pass so that we can go on to our CXC preparations and such. And the teachers that helped us to prepare are no longer there. At the one point when we need them the most. And it doesn’t make sense. It’s not only for me. It’s not only senior students right here; it is first to fourth form. All of us are getting affected—not only in one or two classes, sometimes three or four.”


A number of parents also came out in support of the students and teachers and question whether their children are getting value for their bucks. Mary Cajun is the mother of a third year student; her husband also works at the institution, but she says that her daughter needs a quality education.


Mary Cajun

Mary Cajun, Parent

“This all came out because administration is not doing its job. It is as simple as that. As administrator, you have basic functions that you need to follow and hiring and retaining a teacher is one of the simplest in my opinion. There are actual outlines in how to carry out the process so the problem started there. And the way I see it; the only ones that are being affected or are paying for what happened are the teachers and the students. They decided to walk on their own. It isn’t that the parents asked them to or anything, but they did it because they are experiencing I guess a lot of stress because they are in classes, they are not getting all their subjects. And this isn’t the first time. Last semester when school started, my daughter didn’t have teachers for four subjects for weeks. How does the school even start out without those teachers?”


The fallout at Bishop Martin High School is giving a black eye to the institution which, since its inception in 2002, has won numerous innovation awards at the national and regional level. But according to the board, they are trying to make things right and that starts with complying with the education rules and regulations.


Suzannie Cajun

Suzannie Cajun, Board Member, Bishop Martin High School

“The board is complying with the law. We were mandated that we should send these teachers home because they are illegally hired by the school. So we need to make things right and I would like to emphasize that these teachers have been temporarily asked to stay away from the school until the process has been completed. As soon as we heard of the issue, the new board jumped and we started the process. We are yet to find out and to know what happened before then, but presently our priority is to get those teachers legally hired and back into the classroom.”


Board member, Suzannie Cajun also commented on the concerns by the students about their classes and the substitutions.


Suzannie Cajun

“They are looking into the schedule and are rescheduling to fit in teachers that are already there, the ones that are qualified to go and teach those subjects. It won’t be substitutions for now; it will be that they will go into the classroom and teach that particular subject. We have sat down with the teachers and explain to them that this is a temporary fix so that the students do not miss out on materials that they should be covering at this point. So there will not be substitutions. And if there will be, it will be very few and it will not be for core subjects. And it might be that the substitutions that the teachers will be doing are for teachers who are out sick.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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