Why no charges against school bully?

A Guayagua­yare moth­er wants Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith to find out why his of­fi­cers have failed to charge a stu­dent who slashed her daugh­ter’s face, leav­ing her with par­tial fa­cial paral­y­sis.

It has been five months since 15-year-old Ter­resse Acos­ta was at­tacked at the Guayagua­yare Sec­ondary School by fe­male stu­dents, one of whom cut her across her face with a ra­zor blade. Af­ter a re­port was made to the po­lice in June, the in­jured girl’s moth­er, Mar­i­an­na Acos­ta, said an of­fi­cer told her that if he laid a charge against the al­leged as­sailant, he would al­so have to charge Ter­resse for fight­ing.
 Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia said the in­ci­dent was in­ves­ti­gat­ed and the ag­gres­sor was sus­pend­ed but Acos­ta said the ac­tion was not enough. She said Ter­resse con­tin­ues to re­ceive threats from school­mates who have warned her that her life will wors­en if she re­turns to school. She has un­der­gone reg­u­lar coun­selling to cope with the trau­ma.

Since the in­ci­dent, Ter­resse has not re­turned to school and is miss­ing out on her first term in Form Three. She cur­rent­ly at­tends a clin­ic at the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal fol­low­ing surgery in June to reat­tach sev­ered nerves in her face. Last Thurs­day, she was ad­vised to get ther­a­py to try to re­store move­ment to her face.
“She has not gone to school since and the bul­lies are still threat­en­ing her, still call­ing her names. They’re send­ing mes­sages to her, that if she comes back to school, what they will do to her. The po­lice have not done any­thing but I want to go back to the po­lice sta­tion to­mor­row. I heard they moved the po­lice of­fi­cer who was in charge of her case and they put an­oth­er of­fi­cer,” Acos­ta said.
“Next week, I want to go to the Po­lice Com­plaints Au­thor­i­ty if the po­lice do not give me any good feed­back,” she said.

Acos­ta has tried un­suc­cess­ful­ly to get her daugh­ter trans­ferred­to schools in Ma­yaro, San­gre Grande, Rio Claro and Table­land. She said a school su­per­vi­sor told her to let Ter­resse re­turn to the Guayagua­yare school, us­ing the anal­o­gy that even when a work­er is in­jured on a work­site, he or she has to re­turn to the same work­site when re­cov­ered. How­ev­er, she said, be­cause of the trau­ma and the un­healthy en­vi­ron­ment at the school, Ter­resse will not be able to fo­cus on her stud­ies.

She claimed a so­cial work­er vis­it­ed their home re­cent­ly and at­tempt­ed to force her to send Ter­resse back to the school, say­ing that it was against the law to keep her daugh­ter home.

Acos­ta is call­ing on the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to as­sist in find­ing a new school for her daugh­ter.

 

The in­ci­dent

At around 10 am on June 6, dur­ing So­cial Stud­ies class, a teacher or­dered Ter­resse Acos­ta to stand in the cor­ri­dor. While she was there, an­oth­er stu­dent ac­cost­ed her. The teacher saw the in­ci­dent and or­dered the stu­dent to go to the prin­ci­pal’s of­fice. How­ev­er, two al­so ap­praoched Acos­ta and there was an ex­change of words dur­ing which the teen was cut on her face with a ra­zor blade.
Ter­resse was tak­en to the Guayagua­yare Health Cen­tre by am­bu­lance and then trans­ferred to the Ma­yaro Dis­trict Health Fa­cil­i­ty. She re­ceived 16 stitch­es and was re­ferred to the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal.
A School Su­per­vi­sor III lat­er sub­mit­ted a re­port to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion which in­di­cat­ed that the prin­ci­pal had sus­pend­ed the stu­dent. The mat­ter was re­ferred to the po­lice. 

“I can’t say any­thing with re­gards to that,” Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia said when he was ap­proached for com­ment yes­ter­day.

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Story by KEVON FELMINE

Image by RISHI RAGOONATH

Image caption: In this June 2019 file photo Marianna Acosta shows the scare on her daughter Terreese’s face, which happened when she cut with a razor blade by a student at the Guayaguayare Secondary School.

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