Teachers at the Signal Hill Comprehensive School have written to the Chief Secretary demanding an immediate update on plans to address safety concerns at the school.
The teachers say they are fearful for their lives because of the violent nature of some of the pupils at the school. Last Thursday, a pupil threw a glass bottle containing urine at one of his teachers, prompting an immediate meeting among teachers at the institution.
A senior teacher at the school told Tobago News that they have been grappling with this situation for at least eight years. "On each occasion, Education would collect the students, send them for counseling and the delinquent pupils would return to school shortly after to continue their behaviour," he noted.
Teachers are also upset by a stance taken by the Ministry of Education that only the Minister can sign an expulsion letter. This means the principal of a school can only hand out a maximum penalty of seven days suspension.
The teachers also want the Chief Secretary to say which contractor has been awarded the contract to construct a fence at the back of the school and when construction would commence.
"The Secretary came the last time and promised the fence would be constructed soon. He gave us his word; but to date we are still waiting, still fearful that one of these pupils would come through that fence to execute one of their dastardly acts," the teacher stated.
When asked to comment on the matter, former Principal of the Signal Hill Secondary School, and present Tobago Chief Secretary Orville London said the security of teachers and pupils of the school is paramount. He added that he will leave the necessary works to be done at the school to the experts.
"It is up to the Principal, MTS Security Firm and the Division of Education to address the matter. An evaluation needs to be done on the school where that specific matter is concerned," London said.
London however, insisted the procurement process to carry through the installation of the new fence at the school has been completed and the contractor, who has been appointed to carry out the job should have met with the principal on Tuesday.
When pressed further on the ultimatum given to the Division of Education to provide in writing the necessary security measures on Wednesday, London said he would prefer our questions be directed to Education Secretary Whitney Alfred. Tobago News tried repeatedly to access the Secretary via his mobile phone but the calls went unanswered.
By press time, some workmen had turned up at the school to begin taking measurements.
Teachers were still consulting each other and their union on the course of action to follow.