Threats from thugs have forced the dean of discipline at a St Andrew-based high school to flee the institution, while other teachers and administrative staff operate daily in an atmosphere of fear.
Administrators at the school say they have taken several steps to restore calm at the institution, but some teachers told The Sunday Gleaner that they remain concerned.
The threats started late last year after a male student was searched and a firearm found in his possession. The gun was seized and the student arrested by the police.
This did not go down well with thugs from the area who demanded that the gun be returned and threatened that students and staff at the school would be harmed.
“It is something that we are trying to work through because you know that in any community where we have this type of find, there is going to be some amount of fear,”the school’s principal told our news team last week.
“As a school, it is something that we are really trying to get over, we are trying to get back to some amount of normality, and to not aggravate the situation any more,” added the principal.
ON SPECIAL LEAVE
He said the dean of discipline involved in the seizure of the gun has been on special leave since the incident as the Ministry of Education decides if she should return the school.
In the meantime, the school has advertised the post as it prepares for the seeming inevitable decision that the long-standing dean of discipline will not return.
“The dean of discipline left out of fear. She opted for special leave arrangement, which the ministry has granted. We are waiting on them now to see what they say,” said the principal.
“I come to work as usual. It is just like anywhere else in Jamaica where you have to exercise your own personal safety. It is the same at work. I don’t see any difference,”offered the school’s vice-principal, as she tried to reassure qualified personswho may be willing to apply for the post.
“It is not like when it just happened. There were threats and so on but it cool down now,”said one female security guard who underscored the loss to the school if the dean of discipline does not return.
“All I know is that anybody who they get, I would like them to be as strict as she was. Yousee all the children out here now? Once they have class and she is passing through, you would see all of them just get up and move to their class,” added the security guard.
The principal said that the school has made improvements to its perimeter fence as well as its internal operation while employing security guidelines specified by the Ministry of Education.
The school has also been working with churches, parents, teachers, and certain other groups in the community to reduce the threat.
“This is a very unfortunate incident, and it has definitely been something of concern. It is not something you want to happen,” said the principal.