Marsha Lee Crawford and Owen Speid

‘Unfair And Unfortunate’ - Teachers, Parents, Students Throw Support Behind Pembroke Hall Teacher Facing Disciplinary Hearing

Publication Date: 
Friday, January 31, 2020

There was a strong show of support from educators and parents as teacher Marsha Lee Crawford yesterday faced the Pembroke Hall High School board for the first time since her violence-laced outburst against a student went viral last year.

Crawford reportedly accepted responsibility and expressed remorse during the hearing, which is expected to continue today before the sitting tribunal determines a course of action.

But seeking to influence the final decision, Crawford’s supporters, mainly clad in red, gathered at the entrance to the St Andrew-based school, where they made their feelings known.

Ann Geddes-Nelson, principal of Independent City Primary School, said she was present because she stood in solidarity with her embattled colleague.

“We hope and trust that this country, Jamaica, will be better regarding the discipline of our children and the attitude that parents take when students are disruptive,” Geddes-Nelson said.

“We ask that this morning an amicable solution might be found to the issues that we now face in our schools as educators and teachers.”

Sharon Hamilton, a parent, told The Gleaner that she came out in full support of the teacher and that “if they even suspend her for a little time ... she is to keep her job because she did nothing wrong”.

Wayne Thompson, another parent, was in agreement with Hamilton.

Thompson said: “You see right now in Jamaica, dem need fi ease up off the teacher dem and stop pick up this foreign thing about you nuh fi deal with the kids dem certain way … . That is why nowadays dem youth ya a tek up how much gun and a do so much thing and a say nobody nuh fi talk to dem.”

Lasora Nicholson, home economics teacher at Pembroke Hall, who was also wearing red in support of her colleague, said that what Crawford was being put through was “just unfair and unfortunate”.

“I think it could have been handled differently, given the level of frustration that teachers feel on a regular basis based on disciplinary issues with the students. They are treating her as if she killed the young man, and I am sure he is not dead.”

Nicholson hopes that they will dismiss the case altogether.

Head boy Darion Anderson told The Gleaner that the situation was sad.

“The public needs to understand that teachers are human beings just as us … we see it in our Parliament and how the parliamentarians behave as well, so regardless if she is a teacher, yes, some of the things she must not say or whatever it is, but she is a human being just as us,” Anderson argued.

“No matter who we are, sometimes things happen in life that cause us to flip, and it flip the moods, and we forget who we are and say things that we not supposed to say.”

He said Crawford was a good teacher, adding that the general behaviour of the student body at the school was “very awful”.

Anderson added: “The respect starts at home. You can’t send your bad-breed pickney come a school and expect the teacher to discipline him. It starts at home. You can’t expect say your pickney fi come and talk to you any way and come a school and talk to teacher any way and the teacher supposed to tek it. It doesn’t work like that.”

Owen Speid, president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, out in a full suit of red, begged for Crawford to be forgiven.

“If you can forgive the former Minister of Education Ruel Reid for referring to principals as extortionists, and if you can forgive the honourable Ronny Thwaites for referring to students as leggo beast, then I can’t see why it is we are lashing this teacher so much because yes, we want all our teachers to be professionals, and that is what the JTA is all about.”

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