While supporting the recent policy to bar unaccompanied minors from the Tortola Pier Park, Principal of Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) Sandy Underhill said the school has been struggling with indiscipline for a long time and is calling on parents to lend greater support to ESHS when it disciplines their children.
Underhill said the educational facility has been struggling to properly address the issue partly because some parents challenge the school when it disciplines disruptive students.
“Sometimes you have parents who are very supportive but you also have those who are very mad at you because you suspended their child, and who are telling you: my child was just defending him or herself and I don’t know why my child is suspended,” said Underhill, who described student indiscipline as a societal issue.
She also called for support from members of the wider community including police.
“It may not necessarily have to mean you charge or you arrest. It can mean coming together and meeting and coming up with an accurate recommendation for a particular child.”
“That is basically what I would like to see when the school takes action. Support the school when it tries to instill discipline and the consequences for bad behaviour, but also take responsibility because it’s everybody’s problem,” she said.
Underhill was speaking in response to recent reports that ESHS were ‘wreaking havoc’ in the commercial district of Road Town during afterschool hours.
Don’t blame the Pier Park
The incidents of unruliness led to management at the Tortola Pier Park banning persons under 17 from entering the facility without being accompanied by someone 21 years or older.
While expressing some disappointment that her students have been banned, Underhill said Pier Park must not be criticised for implementing the ban.
“It’s the same principle that I spoke about. They have their rules and they have to enforce them. While it’s my students who are mostly affected, I cannot say that the park is doing anything wrong because they are now enforcing consequences and that is what we all need to band together and do. We need to understand that there are rules and if you enter into an establishment anywhere that has rules you have to abide by the rules and if they don’t you have to abide by the consequences,” Underhill reasoned.
“So, the same stance that the Pier Park has taken is the same stance that I’m asking the community to support me on. When I take my stance and I enforce my rules, please support me.”
The school principal said indiscipline is not new to ESHS but is only now being greatly publicised because students are now directly affecting well-known businesses.
“Everybody knows that we (the school) are now located right next to FSC, we are located right next to TICO and RiteWay which are big businesses in the Virgin Islands and so, finally, we are getting attention.”
Though noting that it is disheartening to see her students being negatively labeled, Underhill said: “This is what I always wanted for us to see; that there is a problem but the onus is on everybody … Everybody needs to get involved with what is going on with our youth to try to make the territory a better place. It’s not just the school, it is everybody’s problem.
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