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Rush for transfers

THERE was a mad rush by parents requesting transfers for their children who wrote the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination and were assigned to the troubled La Romaine Secondary School.

There are usually requests for transfers from this school, but during the registration of some 141 students yesterday, there was an increase in the number of parents seeking transfers.

The school has been the scene of
at least two electrical fires in the past two years, as well as a termite infestation. On the advice of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) teachers walked out of the school a month before it closed for the vacation. They cited refusal to work for health and safety reasons under Section 15 of the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Act. This was after the electrical inspectorate found electrical violations throughout the school and gave an August 21 deadline to rectify the problems. Failure to comply would result in the electrical supply to the school being cut, the electrical inspectorate outlined in a letter to the principal.

Because of the teachers’ absence, the end-of-term promotion tests were cancelled and the graduation and ball were both held at the Pleasantville Community Centre.

The situation at the school has been widely reported by the media and yesterday principal Rajesh Sirjue, in trying to quell the overwhelming requests for transfers, reportedly told parents to ignore media reports. He said the situation at the school was not that bad, or else they would not be there to register their children.

Parents and teachers told Newsday the registration was assisted yesterday by personnel from Maintenance, Training and Safety personnel, On-the-Job training and other administrative staff.

On the day of registration, the new intake of students is usually handed a package containing government-issued textbooks, plus the Form One book list. However, that was not done and only registration took place yesterday

Teachers said they are concerned about whether the school will meet the August 21 deadline set by the electrical inspectorate and whether they would have a school when the new term opens in September.

In the meantime, OSH has invited the affected teachers to a meeting at its St James Street, San Fernando, office at 9 am on Monday.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia said earlier the ministry was working to resolve the problems. TTUTA’s president Lynsley Doodhai urged the minister to act with haste as this could continue to negatively affect the school.

He said his members would not return to an unsafe environment.

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