Girl arrested for teacher assault

A 15-year-old female student was arrested at John Gray High School on Tuesday on suspicion of assaulting a male teacher in a classroom following a dispute over the use of a cellphone.

The girl is the third teenager arrested at the school in two days.

On Monday, two 15-year-old boys were arrested on suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct following a schoolyard brawl, which education officials have linked to a gang feud.

The girl arrested on Tuesday was also charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, disorderly conduct and damage to property. She appeared before a special sitting of the Youth Court on Wednesday afternoon and was offered bail to return to the court at a later date.

Lyneth Monteith, acting chief officer in the Department of Education Services, described the incidents as “unfortunate.”

She said the alleged assault on a teacher was “of great concern for the wellbeing of staff and students.”

The teacher’s shirt was torn in the incident, but he did not require hospital treatment for his injuries, according to police.

Ms. Monteith, who was principal at John Gray until last month, said Monday’s incident, involving a fight between two groups of boys, was “related to a situation between students associated with rival gangs.”

She added that school authorities were working with police and parents to resolve what was described as a “long-standing situation.”

“This demonstrates the challenge schools face when situations in the community spill over to schools,” she said in a statement.

She said police and education officials had agreed to a plan of action identifying “short- and long-term” solutions, including mediation between the two rival groups.

Behavior in schools, particularly at John Gray, has been an area of concern for several years.

In April last year, a Year 11 student was arrested after allegedly punching and kicking a teacher in a classroom attack. The boy was suspended and charged with assault causing actual bodily harm. The case is still working its way through the court system.

A network of CCTV cameras was installed at the school in the summer. A consultant’s report released last year highlighted serious concerns about the management of bad behavior in Cayman’s schools, particularly John Gray.

The report suggested some staff were fearful of physical and verbal violence amid a “sense of crisis” at the school, fueled by a minority of students influenced by “criminal intent and drug abuse.”

According to the results of a Freedom of Information request by the Cayman Compass, 64 suspensions of five days or longer were handed out for a variety of offenses ranging from verbal abuse and threats to physical assaults on teaching staff at the school between 2010 and 2014.

Violent behavior by pupils was also highlighted as a key concern of teachers leaving the school system, in transcripts of exit interviews conducted with the Department of Education Services.

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