Shafeeza Ali, 51, made a report to the Fyzabad Police Station that one of the schoolmates of her daughter, Jewel Precious Ali, even threatened to, “open Jewel’s brains and sit down and watch her blood drain”. That was one of several incidents of bullying, violence and discrimination, Ali said, which occuured while Jewel was a pupil of the Fyzabad Presbyterian School.
In a pre-action protocol letter sent by her attorney Stephen Boodram who is instructing attorney Jeevan Andrew Rampersad, Ali outlined a series of abusive incidents involving her daughter while she was a Standard Five pupil.
She stated last month, a teacher asked Jewel, “The virus eat out your brains.” And on another day, the teacher shouted to her, “You are an idiot!” and, “You are stupid and dumb.” In the letter, which was also sent to Minister of Education Anthony Garcia and the Presbyterian Board of Trinidad and Tobago, the attorneys stated on Ali’s behalf that on several days in November, a certain teacher did not attend school but was seen campaigning for a political party in the recent local government election.
And, on those occasions the teacher was absent, the class was left unattended.
Toward the end of October, the pre-action letter continued, a classmate struck Jewel across one of her eyes with a ruler. She had to seek medical attention.
It also alleges that while Jewel was a Standard 11 pupil, the classmate struck Jewel with a sharpened pencil on the palm of her hand. Jewel was taken to the Fyzabad Health centre where a doctor had to surgically remove the piece of lead pencil from the child’s hand. Jewel is due to write the Secondary Assessment examination next year, but Ali stated in the pre-action letter that her daughter is the only student in Standard Five, who writes with pencil while other classmates write in pen.
Jewel is not allowed, the mother stated, to participate in school activities although her daughter, she aded, is a prolific dancer. And furthermore, Jewel was also prevented from taking part in the inter-school’s Spelling Bee competition.
Boodram called for a stop to the bullying and assault on Jewel and threatens that if within 28 days the ministry does not respond to the pre-action letter, he would file an action in the High Court against the Ministry of Education and the Attorney-General, for damages on Jewel’s behalf.
The letter was copied to the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, the National Parent Teachers’ Association, the school’s principal Patricia Beepath and the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association