As the Ministry of Education commences an investigation into reports of a teacher of the Ivan Dawson Primary School in Cane Garden Bay, making a child gargle Pine Sol, the subject Minister has admitted that something did take place.
Speaking on JTV News, Big Story, with Cathy O. Richards earlier today, January 30, 2020, Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) said that at the time of receiving word of the allegations yesterday, January 29, 2020, he was in Cabinet but immediately made contact with senior officials in the Ministry of Education, the Principal of the school, the accused teacher and, subsequently, the mother of the child.
'Something did take place'
"Because I wanted to understand exactly what took place and certainly we at the Ministry recognise that certainly, something did take place.
"This morning we are conducting interviews to make sure that we are apprised of all of the facts so there is an active process in place."
The Minister said the matter will be referred to the Teaching Service Commission, "who makes decisions about anything involving this type of activity and any potential disciplinary actions."
Hon Wheatley also said, after the investigation and the decision of the Teaching Service Commission, all parties involved, including the general community, will be duly informed.
"Everybody will be informed about what actions will take place."
Teacher made 'a serious mistake'
Pressed for details on the discussion he had with the teacher, Hon Wheatley said, "It is my understanding that the teacher made a mistake, its a young teacher, I would like to get the report from the Ministry from the interviews before I comment on the details on exactly what took place.
"I will ensure that [mistake] will not be repeated in the education system. It is something very serious and we must all work together to ensure that our children's health is safeguarded and that is very important to me and that is at the forefront of my mind."
Since the matter came to light, many persons have been expressing their anger on social media. Dr Wheatley said he understands persons are upset about the incident but asked for their patience.
"I want to assure those persons that I am actively involved, engaged with the situation. We will allow the process to take place because we are civilised human beings and we have processes to deal with these type of matters."
Parent of child has been 'understanding'
On the part of the parent, the Education Minister said he believes she is a reasonable person "and I did apologise to the parent on behalf of the Ministry,' he said.
The minister continued, "I know that the teacher as well apologised, I believe the principal apologised as well and I believe that the parent, while she is certainly hurt that something like this could take place, I believe that she is understanding."
He said, "Of course she has questions in her mind. She probably has some disbelief about the situation but I let her know very clearly that we are going to take steps in the Ministry to ensure that a situation like this doesn't repeat itself."
Hon Wheatley also confirmed that the errant teacher is currently not at school.
'Unfortunate incident' - Hon Turnbull
Like the Education Minister, who visited the school following reports that some parents were preparing to protest at the school, Representative for the Second District, Honourable Melvin M. Turnbull (R2) also visited the school this morning.
"It is a very unfortunate incident based on what I was told happened," Hon Turnbull said, adding, that he too spoke with the child's parent, the close family members and the principal of the school.
"I am of the mind that what happened should not have happened...Looking at this incident, hearing what I have heard so far, it is saddening, it is sickening because no child deserves that."
Reports reaching our newsroom is that the child was allegedly made to wash their mouth with Pine Sol for using indecent language.