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School CP - February 1999
Nassau Guardian, 17 February 1999
Corporal punishment at Seventh Day school
Parents claim son was severely injuredBy Mark Symonette
Guardian Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS ACADEMY of Seventh Day Adventist Principal Cheryl Rolle issued a brief statement concerning allegations that a 12-year-old student had been severely beaten by a teacher at the school on Friday. The school said "corporal punishment" was warranted in this case. At left is the accused teacher, Kenneth Deveaux. He remained silent.
(Staff photo by Donald Knowles)
The administration at the Bahamas Academy School of Seventh Day Adventist is tight-lipped about allegations that a student was severely injured after corporal punishment was administered by a teacher.
Principal Cheryl Rolle refused to answer questions about the Friday incident during a short press conference at the school's Wulff Road administration offices on Tuesday afternoon.
All Mrs Rolle, beside the accused teacher Kenneth Deveaux, would say was that the behavior of the student in question - a 12-year-old 7th grade student - "warranted" corporal punishment.
But the boy's mother issued letters to students who might have witnessed the corporal punishment seeking their parents' permission to give written statements to the police.
The administration did not deny that the student had in fact been punished.
Said Mrs. Rolle in a short "press release": "According to our Student Handbook, our discipline system provides for corporal punishment when deemed necessary.
"The intent of corporal punishment is never to injure, but to reprimand. The behavior of the student in question warranted corporal punishment, and thus it was administered as has been done in all other such cases.
"When the student left school on Friday, we were unaware of any undue negative reaction resulting from this punishment. At this point, we reserve further comment."
The principal refused to say exactly how the student had behaved in order to "warrant corporal punishment."
She refused to answer general questions related to corporal punishment at the school, and the exact nature of that punishment.
Mrs. Rolle was told by the press that the boy's parents had issued letters to the students. She was told that the letter contained certain allegations, which the school might wish to confirm or deny. Again, Mrs Rolle refused further comment.
In the letter to the students' parents, the boy's parents said, they were "writing to inform you of an extremely inhumane act of violence and brutality that has been committed against our son," allegedly by Mr. Deveaux on Friday, February 12.
The incident, according to the parents, occurred in one of the classrooms at the school during the Health Science class period.
"It is reported that our son received over 70 blows about his body..."
"From the imprints on his body, the doctor was able to determine that the weapon used could have been a bamboo cane, or something similar," the letter said.
The boy's parents alleged that a second teacher stood by and witnessed "this dreadful act..."
"This letter is being written to seek your approval and permission in allowing your child to go into the Wulff Road Police Station between today and Friday in order to give a written statement on the events that transpired during the above mentioned day and time.
"Because we believe all the children in the classroom were traumatized and distressed, we urge you to discuss this ordeal with your child to determine whether he or she may need some form of counseling to assist them in coping with this incident."
The letter contained a photograph of the boy's buttocks.
Nassau Guardian, 18 February 1999
Therapy for student given paddle beating
Parents press charges against disciplinarianBy Odia Knowles
Guardian Staff Reporter
A seventh grader at Bahamas Academy School will begin therapy today in a bid to heal internal scars left behind from the severe beating he received last Friday from the school's disciplinarian.
Yesterday, the parents of the 12-year-old boy, Janet and Gladstone Adderley, pressed charges against the man who administered what the school termed "corporal punishment."
While at the Police Station, Mrs. Adderley met face-to-face with officials of The Bahamas Conference of Seventh Day Adventist (SDA), who she reported did not utter a single word of apology to her.
Hours later though, the hierarchy of the Seventh Day Adventist Community promised an investigation into the matter and extended "sympathy to all parties concerned."
Meanwhile, the person accused of hitting the seventh grader up to 70 times with a paddle in the front of his class, remained on the job. He is not a teacher at the school but the school's accountant.
In the meantime the SDA Conference, which overseas the two SDA schools in the nation, called a minute-long press conference Wednesday, announcing that a committee has been appointed to investigate the incident.
"In order to ascertain all the facts regarding the incident, the School Board has appointed a committee to investigate the matter," Education Director of The Bahamas Conference of Seventh Day Adventist Dr. John Carey disclosed.
Dr carey did not submit to questioning at the end of his short statement, and could not confirm whether the man will be suspended while the investigation is underway. "The school board will make a determination on that," he said.
Admitting, however, to the February 12 incident, where the 12-year-old boy was disciplined by the person responsible for discipline at the school, Dr Carey said parents have always supported the school's efforts to train their children to be good citizens.
Reacting to statements attacking the school's disciplinary policy and concerned about the effect that has already spread to the parents, he stated that for over four decades Bahamas Academy has been instrumental in providing Christian education for the Bahamian community.
He emphasised that many outstanding citizens benefited from the programme offered by the school.
"Through the years, we have had a good school/student relationship and parents have supported our efforts to train their children to be good citizens in our Commonwealth," said Dr. Carey.
On Tuesday, the boy's parents came forth with pictures showing the black and blue bruises about the child's hips and legs.
The boy's mother reported that her son was beaten because he was accused of trying to hit his Health Science teacher with a pen. He was then taken from the school and returned with a senior staff member.
The student was ordered to bend over and hold the desk tightly as the disciplinarian gave him a few strokes with the paddle. After a few strokes, the boy reportedly fell to his knees and was still given at least 40 more strokes.
Days after the incident, his mother said that he is not okay but that's expected. "He is terrified really to go back on campus, but other than that we are working with him."
She said her son will begin counseling sessions with Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson today.
Uncertain whether she will allow her son to remain a student of Bahamas Academy, Mrs. Adderley said, "I am having difficulty with going back on that campus and I have to take him and pick him up."
The doctor had given the boy three days off so he should have returned to school today.
But, Mrs. Adderley said, "I could not say at the moment (whether he would be returning to school) because we have not made a final decision on that yet."
The Guardian learnt that the school's office was bombarded with telephone calls from concerned parents. A meeting was scheduled for last night with teachers and parents of the school.
Nassau Guardian, 22 February 1999
Public asked not to 'rush' to a conclusion over corporal punishment of 12-year-oldBy Darnell Dorsette
Guardian Staff Reporter
Pastor Keith D Albury, president of The Bahamas Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist, Saturday called on the public not to "rush" to a conclusion about the severe beating of a 12-year-old boy at Bahamas Academy School of Seventh Day Adventist.
"Even though we were all affected emotionally by what we saw on television and by what was reported, we need to remember that there is due process in our country," he told The Guardian.
"The charges that have been leveled against the disciplinarian are serious charges and obviously there are implications. But we cannot rush to judgment and try this person in the court of public opinion."
He said that a sub-committee has been appointed to investigate the matter.
Rev Albury had just completed a sermon at a special service held at the Grants Town Seventh Day Adventist Church for Seventh Day Adventist law enforcement officers from the Defence Force, Customs Department, the Prison, the Police Force and the Immigration Department.
Rev Albury said that they are sympathetic about all that has happened to the seventh grader, "but I think that it is important for the media to be circumspect and prudent on how it reports this."
"I think everybody has the right under the Constitution to have their side of the story heard and not really rush out there and make a statement simply to pacify the outcry," he said.
"That's not the way you deal with matters like this as an organisation. We try to get all the facts before we make a judgment on the matter."
Rev'd Albury said they want their law enforcement officers and members of the various churches to recognise that it is the life they live that really counts in the midst of charges and aspersions that may be cast on the entire church as a result of what people perceive from this event.
It is reported that the principal of Bahamas Academy School of Seventh Day Adventist, Cheryl Rolle, said the behaviour of the student "warranted" corporal punishment.
Reportedly the boy received about 70 blows about the body.
Rev'd Albury said he doesn't think the principal was speaking to the severity of the punishment in this case, but the school's policy of corporal punishment.
There was no judgment on the part of the principal whether the incident was warranted or not, he said.
Rev'd Albury said one has to bear in mind that the matter had not yet been investigated.
But the way that it was presented, he said, it made it seem like she was condoning what was reported on television.
That was not her intent, Rev'd Albury said.
When asked if the Seventh Day Adventist Church has apologised to the boy's parents, he responded: "As I mentioned to you, the matter is under investigation. Our hearts go out to the student that's involved in this incident; there's no question about that.
"We're praying for the student, the parents and the administrator and his family. What you saw on television was one side of the story, and I believe in the principle of due process. That is why we are basically constrained not to comment on this."
Rev'd Albury noted that this matter was taken to the public domain without going through the normal process of the church.
"We do have a process to deal with complaints like this," he said. "If there are complaints by parents at Bahamas Academy, the matter will be dealt with through the grievance process."
Rev'd Albury said it may have even been addressed at the school board level.
"This was not done and we're not judging right or wrong with respect to what the parents did," he said.
Rev'd Albury said parents and citizens have rights under the Constitution to do whatever they would like as free moral agents.
"We were saddened that that medium was chosen to deal with the complaint," he said.
In his sermon, Rev'd Albury said these are difficult times for the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
"I listen to the reports, I listen to the charges, I listen to the hatred and all the things that came forth," he said.
Rev'd Albury told members of the church that they are seeking the truth in this matter because they serve a God of truth.
"I'm just emphasizing this to mention that it's amazing the kind of invective and all that came out across the press with respect to the Seventh Day Adventist in general," he said.
Rev'd Albury said people will make their statements at times, but the members must remember as Christians they need not stand up and fight them with the same charges and use the same methods.
Rev'd Albury believes that the Bahamian society is better off because of the hundreds of Seventh Day Adventist who serve in the public sector and the various law enforcement agencies.
"Because of the thousands of Seventh Day Adventists who serve in the wider public service... like the light of the world, I believe that they are making a difference as they seek to influence the society with the sweet graces of the Holy Spirit and with the love of Jesus Christ," he said.
Rev'd Albury said members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church are law abiding citizens.
He said they are also misunderstood because of the beliefs they adhere to.
Rev'd Albury asked the members of the church to pray for the law enforcement officers.
"Like the many other law enforcement officers from various denominations, I ask you to pray for all of them because they face challenges day after day," he said.
"May God sustain you, may He keep you in His grace, as you endeavor to serve him as you serve this great country of ours."
Nassau Guardian, 22 February 1999
Was Education Act violated?By Gladstone Thurston
Guardian Staff Reporter
The Bahamas Academy School may have violated the Education Act when it allowed its accountant to corporally punish a 12-year-old seventh grade boy.
Minister of State for Education Dion Foulkes confirmed Sunday that spanking in the hands with a flat rule-like implement by the administration staff only is permitted by the Education Act.
And, although concerned parents have been pressing the Ministry of Education to condemn the Bahamas Academy incident, Mr Foulkes said they will await the outcome of investigations by the Police and the Department of Social Services.
"I cannot pass a judgement on that matter because the police is investigating it," said Mr Foulkes. "Once the police takes charges of a matter, the government agencies prefer to wait the results of the police investigation."
Parents of the student, Janet and Gladstone Adderley, have pressed charges against Kenneth Deveaux who allegedly hit their son with "over 70 blows about the body" in front of the class.
Bahamas Academy, operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church provides for corporal punishment "when deemed necessary."
Mr Foulkes (FNM, Blue Hills), said on Sunday that disciplining a child "through the use of some type of physical punishment is allowed by the Education Act which covers all schools.
"Spanking the child on the hand is the way that is recommended," said Mr Foulkes.
In the public school system, he said, only headmaster/mistress or senior master/mistress have the authority to administer corporal punishment.
"And there must be some other administrator witnessing the punishment," he said. "It just cannot be one person in the room (with the student).
"Teachers have no authority to administer any type of discipline by way of physical punishment," he insisted.
Mr Foulkes confirmed that repercussions from The Bahamas Academy incident have been flowing into the Ministry of Education.
"We have not had any complaints from any of our (public) schools," he said, "but the public has been approaching the Ministry of Education in reference to the incident at Bahamas Academy.
"Our position is that we are awaiting a full report from the Police and the Department of Social Services. As soon as we get reports from them, the Ministry of Education will take its position."
Usually, corporal punishment in the public school system is administered with a flat rule-type implement. Caning is no longer authorised.
"The Seventh Day Adventist Church, generally, has been very good when it comes to education of Bahamian students," said Mr Foulkes, "and a lot of leaders have passed through the Seventh Day Adventist system. We have been very pleased with what they have been doing with respect to education."
He said the president of Seventh Day Adventist Conference, Pastor Keith Albury, "has given his undertaking that they are doing a thorough investigation after which necessary action would be taken.
"But the government also has an obligation to ensure under the Education Act, that all schools in The Bahamas are run with certain minimum standards as they relate to education and matters of discipline.
"We are watching this particular issue very closely and we are only waiting for the results of the investigations from the several agencies of government."
Mr Foulkes said the incidence of disciplinary problems in the public school system has decrease over the last academic year."
The amalgamation of certain schools resulted in a mixture of student population from different areas, and it took about a year for that to adjust.
"The adjustment has been made and we are very satisfied with the efforts being made by the administration in our high schools and junior high schools and also with the efforts of our security staff," said Mr Foulkes.
The Ministry of Education employed 53 new security officers this academic term. Trained in basic police operation, the predominantly male contingent were deployed at various New Providence schools.
"We have seen a marked difference in the number of incidents occurring in our schools," said Mr Foulkes. "We have found that certain schools require a strong male presence with respect to discipline. I am not taking anything away from the female security officers, but we have found that the men security officers tend to be more effective."
He commended Director of Education Iris Pinder and her team which have been holding seminars for the administration staff "to ensure that incidence of conflict are properly resolved."
He also praised the "the vigilance of the administration staff. Teachers generally have taken a more pro-active role in conflict resolution.
"Our schools are a microcosm of the general society...and so it is incumbent upon us to come together to help us solve this problem with discipline among our teenagers."
Asked whether the public education system was going soft on discipline compared with the last era, he said: "I don't think so. Discipline within our schools is a very strong factor."
Nassau Guardian, 25 February 1999
Seventh Day administrator takes leaveBy Darnell Dorsette
Guardian Staff Reporter
In the wake of a tidal wave of sharp criticism by people from all strata of the Bahamian society about the severe beating of a 12-year-old boy at Bahamas Academy School of Seventh Day Adventist, the school has asked the administrator who allegedly beat the boy to take a leave of absence.
"In the interest of conducting an investigation as free as possible from the taint of bias, Bahamas Academy has asked the administrator in question to take a leave of absence, and to his credit, he has cooperated willingly and fully," said Pastor Keith Albury, president of the Bahamas Conference of Seventh Day Adventists.
He said the desire of the Bahamas Conference of Seventh Day Adventists is that truth and fair play take centre stage.
"We cannot say strongly enough that our sole concern is for the child, and indeed all children, and our commitment is to learn from this experience," Rev'd Albury said.
"The ultimate goal is to share what we have learned with the whole community, so as to contribute to the healing of the lives of our children, families and communities, for the positive growth of our nation."
He said as far as the Conference of Seventh Day
Adventists is concerned, this is the Christian way and, therefore the only way ahead of them.
Rev Albury said in all good conscience, they can do no less than to bring to bear on the incident, which took place at Bahamas Academy on February 12, the same sobriety and love of truth that has long been the hallmark of people of their faith.
"This faith dictates that we speak the truth well grounded in evidence, and that is why the Conference of Seventh Day Adventists have been slow in publishing a fuller statement on the matter," he said.
Rev Albury said it was decided that it would be far more in keeping with justice to the child, the administrator involved and the whole school to obtain a more complete picture.
"It is absolutely essential to do so before putting into the public forum words that will surely be taken everywhere and will last for many years, perhaps to the lasting detriment of any number of the parties involved," he said.
Rev Albury said the church would have wished that all parties had approached the issue in the same way, with an unflinching search for truth, regardless of how painful it might be.
"We would have wished such parties had exercised discretion until certain of the truth, lest an injustice be done," he said.
Rev Albury said this has not been the case, and the matter has been tried in the court of public opinion with evidence presented by a single side.
Regrettably, he said, many citizens who are generally known for the exercise of restraint and fair play have jumped into the fray with inflammatory statements.
Rev Albury said this behaviour will not lead to justice, but to more hurt and wounded lives.
"Surely none of our people who boast so often of our Christian nation would, in more sober times, wish for such a result," he said. "We fully support the emphasis that has been put on stemming the tide of child abuse in our country."
Rev Albury said, in fact, the Seventh Day Adventist Church has "not been laggard in lifting its voice on this issue."
"We know and have contributed to the increased sensitivity of the Bahamian public to the evils of child abuse in recent years," he said. "But we also know that many people, feeling guilt that our country has remained silent for so long on this serious problem, may have a tendency to rush to judgment without having all the pertinent information."
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