Mon | Apr 6, 2020

Whitehall crime hurts basic school attendance – veteran principal

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2020 | 12:21 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Police and soldiers swarm an off-street of Whitehall Avenue in St Andrew yesterday. There has been heightened tension over a number of murders recently.

Principal Regina Rossetta-Hanson, who has taught hundreds of students over 30 years at the Collins Close Basic School in the Whitehall Avenue area, says the community is in its worst state ever.

Attendance at her school, which is located at 1B Plum Lane, off Whitehall Avenue, has been affected by the ongoing crime plaguing the St Andrew community. She did not disclose precise figures.

She laments that the scourge of violence was also impacting the behaviour of students.

“The children are so unmanageable. They have no ears, and as small as they are, no respect. Never in all my years have I seen it this way,” said Rossetta-Hanson, who taught the parents of some of the same students who now attend her school.

“Some of the kids I have now, their parents passed through my hands. I have taught also teachers, lawyers, nurses and policemen”, she told our news team.

On Monday, the school’s annual sports day was hit by low turnout that has been blamed on the spike in crime in surrounding communities.

Some of the kids weren’t there because their parents were afraid. The students are from Red Hills Road, Mannings Hill Road, Park Lane, Hundred Lane,” said Rossetta-Hanson.

“My understanding is that there is some disagreement. The latest I heard is the murder of a man in a barrel and some parents were scared.”

The Gleaner understands that the murder referred to by Rossetta-Hanson occurred on Sunday at the entrance to 60 Whitehall Avenue.

The body of a man, identified as ‘Cucus’, was found in a barrel in a garbage pile. The corpse was found about 1:40 a.m.

The police are investigating whether he was killed elsewhere and his body dumped at the location.

Four days prior, 19-year-old David Anthony Johnson and 20-year-old carpenter Shamarie Anderson were gunned down by unknown assailants on Cameron Lane, which is a few blocks from Plum Lane.

Up to last Saturday, the St Andrew North Division, in which the community falls, recorded 22 murders, a more than 200 per cent increase over the corresponding period when six people were killed.

St Andrew North has recorded the most murders of all 19 police divisions since the start of the year.

Yesterday, a massive police-military operation was conducted throughout the division. The operation was aimed at quelling the ongoing violence.

Up to press time, three men had been taken into custody.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com