Ministry hands over findings to Police

first_imgBHS sexual misconduct investigation…head teacher to be warned for “slack and loose” commentThe Education Ministry’s Welfare Department, in collaboration with the Social Protection Ministry, has concluded investigations into the allegation of sexual misconduct at the Bishops’ High School (BHS), and the matter has now been handed over to the Guyana Police Force (GPF).Economics teacher Coen Jackson has been accused of abusing his position of trust as an educator and began grooming female students for sexual activities.Jackson has vehemently denied the accusations, but has admitted to having sexual relations with two former students who are now both in their early 20s.In light of those allegations, BHS Head Teacher Winifred Ellis called a general assembly on Monday, and allegedly berated students for not defending Jackson.“I remember once I (was) coming down the corridor and I had to step back and ask a child to close her legs, a male teacher is teaching. How many times I telling y’all, ‘Don’t touch the boys! Don’t touch the boys!’ How much times I am standing at my office door and when y’all see me y’all running inside, cause you hugging and touching the boys? You are very slack, very loose with youself,” Ellis declared at the assembly.“Do you know Mr Jackson? I want to see the hands…If you felt uncomfortable at any time, step out the line. If he ever touched you and you tell me, step out of the line. Y’all saw it on FB (Facebook), right? Y’all know what I talking about, right? Can you corroborate that story? I didn’t see any of you going and defend him on this story. Not one! Don’t lie, tell the truth!” she further stated.Ellis’s comment has drawn national attention, and a number of persons took to the streets calling for her to be fired. In response to the protest action, Education Minister Nicolette Henry convened a committee to look into the actions of the head teacher.The team comprised Chief Education Officer (CEO) Marcel Hutson (Chief and final arbiter); Legal Advisor to the Education Ministry, Kelly-Ann Payne-Hercules; Guyana Teachers Union Representative Lance Baptiste; President of the Bishops’ High School Board, Ruth Lee; Parent Teachers Association president Sondra Lowe; National PTA Coordinator Nadia Hollingsworth; Coordinator of Health and Family Life Education (HFLE), Coleen King-Cameron; and the two head prefects of the Bishops’ High School.“At the consultation, a recording of the headmistress’s address to the students was presented, and she had an opportunity to provide an explanation. Based on the evidence presented and the explanation proffered, the committee found the headmistress culpable of breaching the regulations under the Education Act 39:01 section 35: “Inappropriate behaviour by teachers in school”, which is liable to a first warning,” the Ministry said in a statement on Friday.The committee has since recommended that Ellis be reprimanded and be made to offer an apology to the students and teachers at the institution. It also recommended that the Ministry offer training and support to teachers on how to deal with children and sexual issues, in addition to providing counselling to students after they made the request.Student body speaksMeanwhile, in a Facebook post, the BHS student body representative Jensen Samaroo related that the students feel victimised by the attack on the institution.“Launching an institutional attack is unwarranted and unjustified. The inherent pitfall and danger in this approach that has been adopted is that, in an attempt to help apparent victims of a ‘nationally’ flawed system that has failed them, a wider array of persons, who happens to be children, have become subjected to victimization,” the student wrote.The student noted that since the allegation hit social media, the right channels are yet to be used.“Indeed, as far as I am aware, since the recent sexual allegations have been levied upon Sir Coen Jackson, Economics and Financial Services’ teacher at The Bishops’ High School, there has been no formal and appropriate channel, no forum at which current students of the aforesaid institution have been given the opportunity to speak on how the current state of affairs has affected them. This is rather unfortunate,” the post related.The head teacher is expected to make her apology to the student body on Monday.last_img

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