A teacher of the Mahdia Secondary School, in whose living quarters was seen a male student sleeping, would not be asked to step aside from the Region Eight Council until the outcome of a probe, officials of the Alliance For Change (AFC) said Wednesday.
Chief Education Officer Olato Sam has said that the teacher has been sent on administrative leave pending the findings of a police investigation.
When asked whether the teacher, who is a Councillor representing the AFC, would be removed at least temporarily while the probe continues, party Vice Chairman Moses Nagamootoo said much depended on the results.
Nagamootoo said he was advised that the teacher was now in police custody but he was unaware of the nature of the allegation.
Region Eight Chairman Mark Crawford said the 15-member council would meet to decide on the future of the teacher on the decision-making body after the investigation is done.
Asked whether someone who is under investigation should not be removed from office, Nagamootoo insisted that the teacher was an employee of the Ministry of Education, not of the party or the council. “We have no reason to ask for his suspension or withdrawal at this point in time. We are awaiting the outcome of an investigation.
That itself will be highly prejudicial because we do not know the nature of the allegation,” he added.
Nagamootoo said he was advised that the student, who hails from Micobie, was staying in the teacher’s quarters with the full knowledge and approval of his parents. The veteran politician opined that the unknown allegation against the teacher could be in retaliation for the expose about school children in Mahdia being made to fetch firewood for the school to cook meals.
“One is likely to speculate as to the motive that it is a tit-for-tat political payback at this point in time,” he said.
AFC executive member Valerie Garrido-Lowe further explained that the teenager was dissatisfied with the food at the school’s dormitory and badly wanted to return to his community rather than stay at school to write examinations.
Like Nagamootoo, she said she was advised that the Schools’ Welfare Officer and two other persons went to the teacher’s accommodation. There, the teacher was seen in bed under a mosquito net and the boy was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Both were said to be clad in their underwear only.
The police and the Schools’ Welfare Officer found the duo there on May 9 three days after the boy was granted refuge.
Garrido-Lowe said the teacher was merely assisting the student who was in difficult circumstances in keeping with the communal spirit and way of life of Amerindians. She vouched for the integrity of the teacher. “From what I know, I have known (name of teacher) for years and he is a hard working and kind young man, always willing to help so this is surprising to me,” she said.