(JAMAICA GLEANER) – While Kerry-Ann McPherson has decided against pressing assault charges against Homestead Primary principal Sophia Deer for allegedly slapping her 13-year-old son in the face last week, she is demanding that the school administrator apologise for the reported offence.
The boy, a grade six student, returned to school yesterday for the first time since last Tuesday’s brawl.
The mother, who told The Gleaner that the boy received encouragement from vendors and other well-wishers on his return yesterday, shared, too, that representatives from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information visited the school yesterday to hear her side of the story.
Though still shaken by the recent fracas, her son, who she described as a “slow learner” who repeated grade six, will sit the ability test in the Primary Exit Profile today.
McPherson says she is determined to get redress because the alleged mistreatment of her child was a red line no teacher – or principal – should cross.
Homestead is one of several Jamaican learning institutions that have been a tinderbox of violence, with primary and high schools incubating high-voltage relations between teachers, students and parents.
While teachers, principals and deans of discipline have mainly been on the receiving end of aggression, others, like at Pembroke Hall High, have seen tutors losing their cool and even threatening to murder children.
The incidents have drawn the ire of Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the threat of tough action by his stand-in minister responsible for education, Karl Samuda.
But McPherson denied Deer’s claims, accusing the principal of displaying “careless and unprofessional behaviour”.
She was adamant that her son was wrongly accused, claiming that staff who witnessed the incident assured her that the boy was not engaged in a fight when he was struck.
“On Tuesday, about 11 a.m., I was at work and got a call from the principal, saying I must come for my son. She said there was an altercation at the school that caused her to slap him in his face two times. But she didn’t say what altercation.”
“Her reply was, ‘Oh, oonuh come fi gang mi? Mi never know mi fi stand up mek your son beat mi?’
The mother accused Deer of creating a “big scene” before heading to her office.
“I was calm because I did not want to give away my rights,” McPherson said.
“I told her I would be pressing charges since I couldn’t hear why she box my son. She said, ‘Sign out your son and leave!’”
McPherson painted her son as the victim of a failed attempt to part a fight. He was later summoned to the principal’s office.
“I understand that the principal told him to take his hand out his pocket and stop shake up like badman. He took his hand out but was huffing and puffing and saying she was lying,” McPherson said.