A former teacher in the Cayman Islands Education Department who alleges she was hit in the face with a chair by a student has filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Education and the government.
The writ filed on Oct. 5 seeks unspecified damages against the government for negligence in “not providing a safe place of work.”
According to the writ: “[That negligence] manifested itself when the plaintiff [named in the writ as Cecile Miller-White] was hit in the face with a chair by a student.”
The lawsuit further claims that the defendants, the Minister of Education and the government, were aware of the incident and “continuously displayed disruptive, threatening and disrespectful behavior to [Ms. Miller-White] and generally.”
Ms. Miller-White’s attorney, Dennis Brady, confirmed Wednesday that she has left the island since the incident, which occurred in 2013. Mr. Brady said the incident was reported to the school system’s incident management team, but he was unsure whether the matter was reported to police.
School violence involving incidents where students have attacked teachers have made headlines over the past two years, most recently when a 15-year-old John Gray student was arrested in March on suspicion of assaulting a teacher in the classroom. The assault occurred following a dispute over a cellphone.
The teen was charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, disorderly conduct and damage to property. She has since appeared before the Cayman Islands Youth Court.
In April 2014, another John Gray student was arrested and charged after he allegedly kicked and punched a teacher during a classroom attack.
A 2014 government consultant report noted major concerns regarding the management of student misbehavior generally. The report stated that some teaching staff were fearful of physical and verbal violence that was largely being fueled by a minority of students.
Students’ violent behavior was also a concern of teachers leaving the school system following the end of their contracts, according to transcripts of exit interviews conducted with the Department of Education Services that were examined by the Cayman Compass.