A nine-year-old boy who was expelled from a private school almost two weeks ago because he complained about being bullied returned to classes yesterday following a court order. Justice Frank Seepersad granted an interim injunction on Tuesday night ordering the Cedar Grove Private Primary School to reinstate the Grade 3 student.
At around 8 am yesterday, a court marshal served the order on officials at the school in Palmiste, following which the child was dropped off by his parents. Named as defendants in the lawsuit challenging the school’s decision to expel the child are the school, chairman Flair Rampersad, Shaheed Allaham and teachers Jenny Ramkissoon and Allison Sebro-Baptiste.
In granting the order, Justice Seepersad said that bullying is a serious issue.
“Any child who makes such a complaint should be taken seriously. In this case, the court feels with a high degree of assurance that it will be established that the child was bullied. There is medical evidence which supports his claim of being struck on the arm and there is no evidence to suggest the child has physiological issues,” he said.
“Our children must be protected and a school should be a safe haven. No child should be ridiculed for advancing a legitimate complaint and the balance of convenience favours the granting of injunctive relief so as to ensure the rights of the child to and education is preserved.”
The judge added that the child must also be provided with all the class notes and educational materials he would have missed. The principal was ordered to “ensure the physical and emotional wellbeing and safety” of the child at school and “refrain from making disparaging remarks or accusing the child publicly or privately of being a liar or of fabricating events or complaints of bullying and intimidation.”
The child, an A student, only started attending the school on January 13 after his parents paid $9,700 in fees. According to the court documents, on January 17 he was walking to his class with his lunch when the door of the Grade 4 class was forcefully kicked open by an older boy. The door struck him on his arm, causing him to fall to the ground and he began crying. The boy said the older boy’s friend, who is also in Grade 4, followed him a few times and sent a student to tell him he was a “load of crap.” She also called him an idiot.
The boy’s parents claimed the school also refused to take any disciplinary action against the students or arrange a meeting with their parents. In his affidavit, the boy’s mother said the principal accused her son of being a liar and sent his son to the Grade 4 class where Ramkissoon and Sebro-Baptiste told the class he was a liar, made up stories about the two children and could not hear well.
On February 3, the boy’s father was informed via email of his son’s expulsion. He said the entire incident has left his son traumatised and he has received counselling.