Security up, students down

Census shows numbers down

School started back at John Gray High School after the holidays at last Wednesday with beefed up security but fewer students, Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin said Friday at the Cabinet press briefing.

The security contingent at John Gray was increased to eight people after two incidents that required police response and the acknowledgement that the youth arm of a local gang had ‘tagged’ the school as its turf.

Mr. McLaughlin said he was somewhat concerned that school had recommenced last week without some 149 students, who apparently extended their Christmas holidays.

‘Apparently, that’s not uncommon,’ he said. ‘When school starts in the middle of the week, some parents decide not to send them back to school until the next week when school has settled in.’

The Education minister declined to say what his view was on the practice of keeping students out of school until the beginning on the first full week after the holidays.

‘I’d rather not say. I say enough inflammatory things as it is.’

Chief Education Officer Nyda Flatley said the principal of John Gray had indicated that she thought a number of students had gone overseas over the holidays and that they were expected back to begin this week.

Mr. McLaughlin said the Ministry of Education was still in the process of appointing the task force that will review the disciplinary policies at the high schools.

He said that the Head Boy and Head Girl at John Gray and their counterparts at George Hicks would be included on the committee to ensure the students had representation.

In addition, Mr. McLaughlin said he wanted to include two people who had attended government schools and who had recently graduated from college.

‘It is important to bring that perspective into the process

Mr. McLaughlin and several members of the Ministry of Education are attending the World Education Ministers Conference called ‘Moving Young Minds’ in London this week.

Upon returning to the island on Friday, Mr. McLaughlin said he hoped to have all the appointments to the disciplinary task force confirmed so that he could announce the names of everyone on the committee the next time he attended a Cabinet press briefing.