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Wednesday, Oct 04, 2023

‘Upsurge of extreme misconduct’ in public secondary schools- Hon de Castro

‘Upsurge of extreme misconduct’ in public secondary schools- Hon de Castro

Already challenged by the lack of resources and measly salary, teachers also have to contend with the gross indiscipline of some students in the public secondary school system.
“Madam Speaker, in recent weeks there has been an upsurge of extreme misconduct at some of our secondary schools, Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports Hon Sharie B. de Castro (AL) stated at the Third Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) at the Save the Seed Centre, in Duffs Bottom, Tortola on February 10, 2023.

Zero tolerance on indiscipline

Hon de Castro also said the Ministry of Education stands squarely with all schools in declaring an absolute zero tolerance approach with regard to the perpetuation of behaviours of extreme misconduct.

“I can regrettably confirm that some of our students are threatening the lives of their peers, teachers, administrators, and security officers and are threatening to destroy school property.

“Additionally, Madam Speaker, our schools have found students in possession of marijuana and marijuana products as well as e-cigarettes and alcohol. Brass knuckles with knives attached are being confiscated from students far too frequently.”

Also concerning was that, according to the Minister,schools have reported a significant issue with students bringing oversized splat-ball or pellet guns and using them to shoot at others after school.

Behaviour contract

Hon de Castro, a former teacher, said it was in September of 2022, in her capacity as Minister of Education, that she met with about fifteen students and their parents regarding their repeated misbehaviour during the last school year, and the school’s intervention plan and expectations were clearly outlined to all present.

“Madam Speaker, both students and parents were required to sign a behaviour contract which outlined the school’s Code of Conduct and Discipline Policy. While some of those students have earnestly tried to improve their behaviour, Madam Speaker, the same is not true for others.

She said as an added measure to address the growing concerns with students’ behaviour, one secondary school in particular added work duty, in school suspension, counselling, engaging internal and external mentors and detention to their litany of strategies intended to remedy disruptive conduct.

Critical instructional time ‘repeatedly disrupted’

“Here again, Madam Speaker, while some students have benefitted from this wrap around approach, others continue to have no regard for the school’s policies regarding student conduct.Even with all these measures added, schools continue to grapple with a significant number of infractions.”

Hon de Castro said the behaviours described above are being perpetuated by a very small percent of the overall student population. However, 100% of the time of the schools’ administrators, teachers and security officers are consumed addressing these matters and critical instructional time is being repeatedly disrupted.

‘Requisite consequences’

“Madam Speaker, this cannot continue.”

The Minister said this means that students who are caught with drugs or drug paraphernalia, edibles, alcohol, knives or toy guns and students who engage in gang fights or threaten teachers or other staff will face the requisite consequences as this type of behaviour cannot be allowed to continue.

She said the Ministry has also engaged the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and has requested increased patrols of schools and their surrounding areas, and strategic assistance with investigations in matters of extreme infractions as necessary.

“Madam Speaker, we encourage parents to talk with their children about the potential implications of engaging in misbehaviour and we also encourage the community to assist us in this regard,” Hon de Castro said.

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