Security protocol breaches at Jordan Hill and Ste Madeline
The Ministry of Education reiterates its commitment to ensure safety and security of students and teachers in the nation’s schools. Minister of Education Anthony Garcia highlighted the importance of adhering to security protocol to ensure that instances such as those that occurred at Jordan Hill Presbyterian School and Ste Madeline Secondary School do not recur in the future. Minister Garcia stated “While we can never predict when incidents like these may occur, we have planned and put thought into safety and security protocol at the nation’s schools to mitigate the extent to which our teachers and students would be affected if something does happen. Both incidents have called for a thorough investigation into the school’s administration and implementation of the aforementioned procedures. The Ministry will be working closely with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.”
An investigation has been launched into an incident which occurred on the compound of the Jordan Hill Presbyterian Primary School at approximately 7:20 am on Wednesday 21st February, 2018. According to initial investigations, an intruder accessed the compound via the pedestrian gate and held up, at gun point, a University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) trainee assigned to the school for practical training, and demanded the keys to her vehicle. He then drove off the compound. The Southern Division Police were contacted and visited the compound and took statements. Preliminary investigations suggest that the incident was not a random one. No one was injured during the incident.
The Students Support Services Division was contacted and counseling for students was immediately provided. Meanwhile, teachers at the compound received counseling from officers of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). School Supervisors of the South Eastern Education District also visited the school and spoke with students and teachers.
At Ste Madeline Secondary, the report received from the School Supervisor III for the Victoria Education District indicated that on February 20th there was a verbal disagreement between a female teacher and a parent who had come to the school to address concerns that were raised by her daughter. The tone of the disagreement escalated to the point that the teacher in question felt threatened and went to the police to report the matter. The report further indicated that the entry protocol to the school had been breached and as such, the affected teacher had to have a police escort to leave the compound. While there have been reports circulating in the public domain that the teacher was threatened by someone brandishing a piece of would, the report received by the Ministry states that the affected teacher never saw such in the hands of any parent. The Ministry of Education acknowledges that there have been challenges with the administration at Ste Madeline Secondary and is working with the teaching service commission to address this matter.
Minister Garcia also acknowledged calls from various stakeholders in education for increased security at schools. To this he responded “At this time it is understandable that persons would make this call however we must be careful that in increasing school security we do not make students feel like the school compound is a prison. All who operate within the school community are to be able to be free and comfortable in their environment and of course they must be safe. The government already provides one officer at all primary schools and, where needed, we will work with the various Denominational Boards and stakeholders to discuss a way forward.”
The Health, Safety and Security Services Unit of the Ministry of Education has planned a meeting with The National Maintenance Training and Security Company Limited (MTS) within the coming week and school safety protocol is to be addressed.
The Ministry of Education urges members of the community who may have information on the Jordan Hill incident to work with law enforcement officials to ensure that the criminal in this instance is apprehended.