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Derek Achong

The parent of a child, who wrote the Secondary Entrance Assessment Examination (SEA) in 2018, has won a lawsuit over the disclosure of her exam script as part of a query over the marks she received.

Delivering a judgment, late last week, High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad ruled that the Ministry of Education acted unlawfully in refusing the parent’s request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In his judgment, Rampersad noted that months before the child wrote the exam, High Court Judge Ronnie Boodoosingh delivered judgement in a similar case in which the ministry refused to disclose a script as they claimed that it was held by the Barbados-based Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), which administers the exam.

Rampersad noted that the ministry was entitled to challenge its agreement with CXC based on that judgement but chose not to.

“However, despite the pertinent criticisms and observations at the end of the judgement delivered the year before, the defendant has not revealed any steps taken to correct the position,” he said, as he suggested the action or lack thereof may be considered contemptuous.

“That pill is made even more bitter by the fact that a competent Court in the Republic of T&T has opined forcefully on the matter without any attempt to address the situation ,” Rampersad added.

While Rampersad ruled that the ministry acted illegally, unfairly and irrationally, Ramperad did not order the disclosure of the script as it was destroyed along with all other for that year by an annual deadline set by CXC and the ministry.

He also noted that the ministry took no steps to attempt to have CXC preserve the script when it was notified of the lawsuit.

Besides granting the parents declarations against the ministry, Rampersad also ordered the State to pay the legal costs incurred by the child’s mother for bringing the lawsuit.

According to the evidence in the case, the child’s mother began querying her results after the child, who cannot be identified as she is still minor, scored significantly lower in the placement exam compared to practice tests.

When the mother was allowed to inspect the revised scores she noticed that the document shared by the ministry showed lower original scores than recorded on her daughter’s results slip.

As the apparent error was quickly accepted and corrected by ministry staff, the parent requested the script to avoid any doubt over her daughter’s performance and assessment.

The parent was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Gerald Ramdeen, Jared Jagroo and Douglas Bayley.

Natoya Moore and Vincent Jardine represented the ministry.