Thu | Jun 20, 2024

JFJ denounces handling of St James High schoolgirls’ kissing incident

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2024 | 6:09 PM
In a statement to The Gleaner on Wednesday, JFJ’s director, Mickel Jackson, said that the students at the centre of the controversy have had their right to education violated. - File photo

Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is condemning the response of the Ministry of Education and the administrators of St James High School following the expulsion of two female students who were allegedly captured on video kissing each other.

In a statement to The Gleaner on Wednesday, JFJ's director, Mickel Jackson, said that the students at the centre of the controversy, ages 15 and 16, have had their right to education violated by how the matter has been dealt with to date.

“Firstly, if what is reported in the media is true, JFJ finds no merit in the grounds for the disciplinary action to begin with. What it raised was the need for ongoing age-appropriate comprehensive sexual education for students without shame and moral judgement,” said Jackson.

“Secondly, the decision to bar the students from school, effectively expelling them, breached their right to education as it was made without adhering to fundamental principles of due process outlined in the Constitution of Jamaica, as well as in the Education Act and its Regulations. By circumventing the board, despite the Education regulations, there was no transparent consultative decision-making process and the students were also denied their right to appeal any disciplinary action,” Jackson added.

The issue came to light in The Sunday Gleaner's April 21, publication in which the mother of the 16-year-old girl accused St James High's principal, Joseph Williams, of expelling her daughter on January 16 this year without allowing the child to undergo counselling or assisting in having her transferred to another institution. The girl has since been enrolled in another institution after being out of school for over two months.

Meanwhile, it is understood that the 15-year-old girl is still out of school.

“We strongly denounce the handling of this entire situation by both the school administration and the MOE in light of the parents' account that they pursued their intervention to no avail. Apparently, an attempt for some resolution only came after the matter was raised in the media,” said Jackson.

"I am also made to understand that one of the girls remains out of school. The leadership of the MOE is urged to address this injustice,” she added.

St James High School's board of management, led by chairman Christopher McCurdy, is expected to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue and determine the way forward.

- Christopher Thomas

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