The teacher at the centre of the much publicised flogging situation at the Berbice High School has been reinstalled to her position but, according to Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), Ms Leila Ramson, she will not be eligible for a promotion until two years have elapsed.
Ramson’s disclosure came following a report carried in yesterday’s edition of this newspaper which stated that the TSC had reinstated the teacher, Jeanne Jeffrey, following a hearing on Thursday held at the TSC’s Brickdam, Georgetown headquarters.
Ms Jeffrey, who has been off the job for almost three weeks, became the centre of an investigation after she administered three lashes each to 28 of the 31 children in the class.
The situation came about after the teacher handed out an assignment to the class on January 29. The task should have been completed by February 5, but only a few students met the deadline.
The teacher then administered the flogging, breaking the rule set by the Ministry of Education as it relates to corporal punishment for students.
But, according to Ramson, while the teacher was reinstalled to her position by a Disciplinary Committee comprising of herself (Ramson), Ms Olga Britton, the Chairperson; Conrad Kendall, a Guyana Teachers’ Union nominee, and Ms Anupawattie Veeren, there were other disciplinary actions that were taken.
Primary among them, Ramson said, was the decision to debar the teacher from any form of promotion within the public education system for a period of two years.
In addition to this, the teacher was sent a warning letter reminding her of the regulations/policies, practices and procedures relating to corporal punishment, and was warned to adhere to them and to discontinue any act of contravention, Ramson said.
According to the TSC chairman, the decision to reinstal the teacher was taken after the welfare of the students was taken into consideration.
Jeffrey, who is a trained graduate teacher, up to the time of the flogging taught Social Studies to fifth form students who are preparing for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examination.
“The Disciplinary Committee took into consideration these children that are writing CSEC… so on that basis she was reinstalled immediately…,” Ramson said.
In addition to the action taken against Jeffrey, Ramson disclosed that warning letters were also sent to the Head-teacher, Ms Jennifer Rawlins, and Deputy Head-teacher, Ms Tracy Heyligar, of the school.
According to Ramson, Rawlins’s warning letter was in reference to the inefficiency on the part of a head-teacher for failing to give effective guidance to the non-administrative staff.
She pointed out that the Disciplinary Committee concluded that there is need for more effective supervision of teachers by the head-teacher of the Berbice High School.
“This flogging incident occurred between 12:30 hours and 13:00 hours. The head-teacher was in the school having a meeting but she didn’t know anything. How is it that something like this is going on in your school and you do not know anything? That is a serious offence.”
The warning letter sent to Heyligar, on the other hand, stated, “The Teaching Service Commission holds you in breach of the rules governing administrative procedures in school…”
According to Ramson, should there be a recurrence of the incident by the teacher in question there will be serious repercussions. Immediate dismissal will not be ruled out.
“In the Teaching Service Commission we have disciplined teachers for inflicting corporal punishment on a single student and they have had harsher punishments… We have only been this lenient because we considered the children.”
Ramson pointed out that, while the Region Seven Education Officer, Shafiran Bhajan, was in order when she initially made the decision to send Jeffrey on leave following the flogging incident, it is only the TSC that is responsible for disciplining teachers.
She emphasised that the Commission is a highly constituted body which is mandated to appoint teachers, remove teachers and impose disciplinary action.
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