Teacher suspended after ‘child abuse’ allegation

Cayman Compass is the Cayman Islands' most trusted news website. We provide you with the latest breaking news from the Cayman Islands, as well as other parts of the Caribbean.
Cayman Compass is the Cayman Islands' most trusted news website. We provide you with the latest breaking news from the Cayman Islands, as well as other parts of the Caribbean.

A teacher at a West Bay primary school has been suspended amid allegations that he threw a chair in a classroom incident, injuring a 10-year-old student.

The child suffered a minor fracture to one of his ribs in the alleged incident at the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School, according to his mother.

Government officials confirmed in a press release that allegations of what they termed “child abuse” had been made.

Police also confirmed a report had been made to them and an investigation commenced.

The teacher has been placed on required leave.

The child’s mother said the incident took place in December but was not reported to her by her son until after term finished.

She said he told her that some of the children were playing a game of “flip bottle” and the teacher responded by throwing a chair, which struck the boy in the side.

The mother, who the Cayman Compass is not naming to protect the identity of the child, said she waited for the new term to start in January to approach the teacher for his side of the story.

She said she was not satisfied with his response and made a report to the school principal and to the police.

She said her son had complained of continuing pain to his ribs during physical exercise and she took him to the hospital last week, when he was diagnosed with a fracture to one of his ribs.

She said she had always been a supporter of the school and was involved with running after-school programs.

“My child got hurt, what am I supposed to do?” she said. “I am so stressed over this I feel like they need to check me into hospital.”

Whatever disciplinary issues were going on, she said, she would never expect a teacher to react in the way described by her son.

Police and staff from the Department of Children and Family Services will now seek to verify the account.

Allegations taken seriously

The Ministry of Education and Department of Education Services said in a joint statement that they take any allegations of abuse against students seriously.

“In December 2016, an incident occurred at Sir John A. Cumber Primary School where a teacher’s action caused a student to receive an injury,” the statement indicated.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that the incident was under investigation.

The statement from education officials indicated that the incident was first reported on Jan. 10 and that the staff member involved had been placed on required leave on Jan. 12 until the police investigation was concluded.

“At that time, any necessary additional action will be taken,” the statement indicated.

In a separate development at the same school, education officials issued another statement denying allegations made by a parent that there was a serious mold issue that would require some of the school buildings to be demolished.

The statement acknowledged that mold was found in “isolated areas” in September, but said this had been dealt with at the time in accordance with recommendations from the Department of Environmental Health. It added that some upgrades would be made to school buildings in the summer.

The statement read: “Amongst the other work that is on-going, a refurbishment programme for all of the Key Stage 2 Classrooms is under way. This work will involve replacing the floor and ceiling tiles, and repainting the walls ….

“None of this work is as a result of suspected damp or mould, but is merely part of an on-going programme to improve the quality of the classroom environments. This work will be on-going throughout the year, with the bulk of the work occurring during the summer break.”

The statement said such upgrades were generally carried out outside of school time to avoid disruption.

It added, “However, whenever an issue is identified that has health and safety implications, the school always places the welfare of the students and staff first, and addresses those concerns immediately.”

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now