Teacher walkout at SC McPherson

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

School mutiny

Teachers walk out after student’s death sparks week of chaos

A RUMOUR about the tragic death of a boy in Dairy Queen two weekends ago plunged the SC McPherson School into crisis last week, prompting teachers to walk out Friday and vow not to return until authorities get a handle on the conflict.

Robert Valcom Jr, 15, collapsed and died at Dairy Queen’s Southwest Plaza location on April 6.

According to Vernon Rodgers, Bahamas Union of Teachers’ area vice-president for New Providence, some students started a rumour that the boy died because a teacher denied him access to medication during an extracurricular Saturday class.

As the rumour spread, students began “threatening the teachers verbally, chanting profanity throughout the school, vandalising classrooms and stealing teachers’ personal items throughout the school,” he claimed.

“One teacher’s back was turned (last) week and the student came up behind and cut her hair. A next teacher, a bottle of water was thrown at her chest. Two outsiders came on the compound with a weapon looking for the teacher who they claim killed the student,” Mr Rodgers said.

Police have not verified claims of actual or attempted attacks against teachers.

Mr Rodgers said graffiti has been plastered on school walls and a number of students have skipped classes. Yesterday, the Democratic National Alliance released a statement calling for Education Minister Jeff Lloyd to intervene.

The mother of the dead boy, Wilna Joseph, said she has heard the rumour that her son was denied medication. But she rejects that claim – she said her son had no known health issues and didn’t take any medication. Instead, she said a teacher that hosted a Saturday class made an insensitive comment that upset the children and prompted their disaffection last week.

As news reports spread about the chaos at SC McPherson, Ms Joseph said she has had to suspend writing the obituary for her son to address the controversy.

SC McPherson has about 1,300 students and more than 60 teachers. Teachers left classrooms Friday morning, assembling in the staff room where they vowed not to return until normalcy resumes. By coincidence, students and teachers will have a week to cool off: classes will not resume until April 22 because of the Easter mid-term break this week.

Robert Valcom Sr, the dead boy’s father, said drama is the last thing he needs as he mourns his son.

“I’m sitting down every morning hoping this boy will knock on this door and say daddy let him in,” he said, “yet people here making chaos and making this what it isn’t and they ain’ feeling the pain that I am feeling.”