Nation e-Edition

FULL STORY: Angry parents

FULL STORY: Angry parents Students and parents in the office of the Graydon Sealy Secondary School yesterday. (Picture by Nigel Browne.)

By Anesta Henry | Wed, October 17, 2012 - 11:57 AM

Angry parents yesterday descended on the Graydon Sealy Secondary School, demanding the immediate withdrawal of 265 suspension letters issued by principal Matthew Farley for alleged uniform infringements.

The parents started converging on the former Garrison School compound from as early as 8 a.m. And by 10 a.m. more than a dozen could be heard outside the principal’s office loudly venting their concerns.

This follows Monday’s all-school inspection, carried out by Farley and other senior teachers, which ended with the issuing of the controversial letters of suspension to members of the 942-strong student body.

Police were called in to keep the peace, and when a team from the MIDWEEK NATION visited, the office was crowded with students and parents who were being met one at a time by the principal.

Sheldon Gittens, whose son, a third former, was sent home for five days for wearing oversized trousers, felt the principal’s action was extreme.
“The size under what he is wearing is too small. This is the size that he has been wearing since last year. He went through a whole year wearing this size trouser that I bought in Cave Shepherd, and yesterday he was sent home for it.

“He was sent home for five days from learning. I got five days of his being home, running about not knowing what is going to happen to him,” Gittens said.
Another parent, Vanita Forde, said her daughter was sent home because her skirt was “too short”. However, pointing to the child’s uniform, she argued that it was actually two inches below the knee.
“I came up here because I believe that five days is too much for a child to be away from school for a matter like this,” said Forde who strongly argued that there were double standards at the school.
 “I come up here and I see some teachers dressed with earrings in them lips, long eyelashes. If a teacher can dress that way for the children to see, and them should be setting an example, them should get send home too,” she said.

Lois Watson, who is the grandmother of one of the students, agreed with Forde’s position. “I don’t like this. I am up here for nothing . . . . I am missing work for this. She has a right to be
at school learning. She should not be home in no house.

“He [Farley] taking away the children rights to be at school. And then I hearing about this teacher whose lips pierced, long extended eyelashes, a lot of make-up, and she still at school. Mr Farley can do better than this; he is the principal.”
Maxine Leacock was upset that she was forced to miss work to deal with her daughter’s suspension.
“This is nonsense. I have ensured that all of her uniforms were made to the two inches. I don’t know if he want me put them to she ankles to throw she down. She shouldn’t be missing class; she got examinations coming up . . . ."

“I don’t understand what going on up here, because I went to the year head and talk to the year head about it, and them say them ain’t see nothing wrong with the uniform.”
When contacted, Farley said he was “in the process of preparing a statement to the school’s board of management” and after that he would be in a position to speak to the media.
Chief Education Officer Laurie King could not be reached for comment.

This is not the first time students of the school have found themselves on the wrong side of the school gate.

In 2007 Farley sent home 200 students deeming their clothing inappropriate.

Please read the full story in today’s MIDWEEK NATION, or in the eNATION edition.

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Posted by c holder 1 year, 11 months ago
Parents do not run schools and they should have been stopped at the gate by security. We now have a nation of parents who cater to their children and do not expect them to be corrected by anyone else since they do not do it.
Mr. Farley has always upheld a high standard of discipline which should be commended and followed by other principals who are just figure-heads. I expect that the Ministry will stamp its foot down on these unruly bullies and support their staff.
Are we naive enough to believe that all the uniforms now presented are the same observed by Mr.Farley previously?
If any parents had valid concerns, they should have approached it with basic manners and respect requesting individual or group meetings.
But many Barbadians assume they have the right to misbehave towards public employees in all settings. It is an ignorant and pervasive mentality that many Government workers-including our teachers- encounter and are somehow expected to be NISE about.
No such thing has ever been reported at our private schools. I don't wonder why.

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Posted by Sol Fish 1 year, 11 months ago
This is total rubbish, who appointed these principles as clothing police, these children go to school to get an education, to measure and increase the level of their basic intelligence, not length of their pants or their dresses, many of us who went to school in the 70's with holes in our shoes, and in sneakers. I went to the Waterford University, with sneakers because my parents could not afford to buy shoes for us 9 kids, many of us made it despite our parents poverty, these children go to school to get an education, not to harassed by clothing police, this principle needs to be testing and measuring these children's skills not their skirts, shame on Mr Farley, instead of measuring the content of these kids minds and improving their intelligence, he ends up wasting time trying to improve the length of their skirts, he needs to get his priorities straight and quit the nonsense.

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Posted by Winston Grecia 1 year, 11 months ago
iF they follow the dress code they would not be suspended I do hope the principal does not back down

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Posted by Kenneth King 1 year, 11 months ago
What I really like to know how much different were the Uniforms that merit a suspension. I thought we had enough school controversy and that our children can continue to concentrate on their solid education.

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Posted by Carl Harper 1 year, 11 months ago
I know of a student, so poor but in possession of a wealth of pride and decency, who kept her uniform in good condition for two years as her mom could not afford new ones at the start of the each school year. She let down down the hem as she got taller, now the dress fits just above the knee.

What should a principal do in such a case? Should he/she suspend the child until she can get a uniform that meets the school requirements while being denied her education?

Just asking.

  • 30
Posted by Teresa August 1 year, 11 months ago
To the person that first commented, you do not know the reasons so you can't speak. It is nonsense, the reasons in which these children were sent home, some of them not true. So don't come talking about parents do not run schools. Being a teacher or principle doesn't automatically make you right. Your going to send home a child for earrings before you take the away or a hair a simple con-rowed hairstyle, for 5 days, UTTER NONSENSE.

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Posted by Cheryl Thompson 1 year, 11 months ago
It is the responsibility of the parents to make sure that the dress code is being adhered to. Although I am not in favour of suspending the students, what other recourse did Mr. Farley have in order to get his message across? We can pretend all we want, but the truth is that some of these kids will deliberately break the rules simply because they don't agree with them. Unfortunately, some parents will take the lead from the children, rather than make these important decisions for themselves. I trust that this will get sorted out promptly so that the children can get back to the classrooms.

  • 10
Posted by G Rosemond 1 year, 11 months ago
This situation in all cases was not about indiscipline or parents trying to run the school. My daughter’s hemline is 1 ½ inches below her knee, has passed the 3 previous inspections since the term began, has never been warned or spoken to in relation to her uniform and was suspended for 5 days. According to Mr. Farley it was too short because it did not meet the requirement of 2 inches below the knee.
I thought that the method of punishment was drastic and unreasonable and various other approaches could have been pursued e.g the hemline could have been corrected in a matter of minutes or even a day, especially since as I stated she had never had a problem with regards to the length of her overall.
From what I observed yesterday, Mr. Farley was approached in a respectful manner by parents, a group meeting was suggested by parents and denied. I am certain the other parents yesterday have a vested interest in the education and well-being of their child and it is not a situation about working against the Principal and the rules.

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Posted by Summer Rheigs 1 year, 11 months ago
This is bringing back memories. As a young girl going to school in Barbados, we were required to wear our uniforms at a certain length, puffer-leg- panties, and a panama straw hat or a beret. I abided by the rules (I HAD TO, I HAD NO CHOICE), but when I reached 4th form and started wearing a skirt (I PLAYED A LOT OF GAMES WITH MY PARENTS AND THE SCHOOL AUTHORITIES); I rolled the top of my skirt, wore a regular panty and kept the beret in my bag. Approaching the school, the beret went on, the rolled skirt was let down and the final move was a trip to the bathroom and puffer-leg-panty went on. LOL. I abided by the RULES on the school premises and I respected my teachers and my elders, as well. I ALWAYS LOOKED THE PART AT SCHOOL, so l was never singled out. However, come 3 o’clock, puffer-leg-panty came off, beret went back in the bag and skirt was rolled back up. I KNEW THAT WAS WRONG but I did it!! (THANK GOD I WASN’T CAUGHT because MY MOTHER WOULD HAVE KILLED ME AND MY FATHER WOULD HAVE BURIED ME). Even though I did wrong, I stayed focus on what I wanted out of life and that was a GOOD EDUCATION and A GOOD JOB. Today, I am a happily married woman in her late fifties with one son, a master and PHD. That rolled up skirt with a regular panty and no hat didn't hurt me or my education.

  • 18
Posted by hyacinth benskin saroop 1 year, 11 months ago
I remember there was a time when most young ladies across the Caribbean, influenced probably by the emerging Rasta- culture chose to wear their skirts below their knees, this custom soon crept into long skirted school uniforms, and the authorities here in Barbados, mandated that such a trend would not be tolerated, and uniform lengths became shorter (really short)
when the "continental" style tight pants became fashionable for young men the more traditional baggy pants was encouraged for school wear; thus when baggy pants were in fashion, a slimmer cut pants was desired as school wear... so what now Mr. Farley ?

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Posted by Real Bajan 1 year, 11 months ago
Some of these suspensions are wrong. How can you suspend a girl for wearing a skirt that is 2 inches BELOW her knee?

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Posted by Olutoye WALROND 1 year, 11 months ago
It's publicity like this that helps to maintain the great divide between the 'older' and newer' secondary schools. Don't the older schools have dress codes, and if so why aren't we hearing about incidents like this with them? Is it that their Principals understand that frivolities like the length of a uniform can be dealt with in a less loud and blaring fashion?

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Posted by Sol Fish 1 year, 11 months ago
KARACHI, Pakistan — At the age of 11, Malala Yousafzai took on the Taliban by giving voice to her dreams. As turbaned fighters swept through her town in northwestern Pakistan in 2009, the tiny schoolgirl spoke out about her passion for education — she wanted to become a doctor, she said, It's totally sad that here in 2012, we have here in one country a young girl being shot in the head, her one crime, wanting an education, fanatics deciding to use her gender to deny her an education, now off all foolishness here in Barbados there're using dress length, to deny these girls, are these girls coming to school naked?, there are more important issues in this world to deal with, what is the deal here, if a child who had no uniform wanted to receive an education they would be turned back based on their clothing, clothing maketh not man nor woman, a mind is a terrible thing to waste, quit the rubbish, focus on enlightening these girls minds, not their skirts.

  • 28
Posted by young dennis 1 year, 11 months ago
Barbados gone mad..conflict at home and in schools, while MALALA (Pakistani girl) fights for her life and the right to read a book.My country has lost its moral ground when Parents show up at schools, vicious words spewing from their mouths and the children take notes for the future and their own children.


such a shame.

  • 16
Posted by Col Cam 1 year, 11 months ago
It is amazing how people can turn around scenarios. Children ought to dress appropriately for school and obey the rules. Parents ought to ensure children in their care obey rules and order. Mr. Farley is helping to prepare them for the working world. Parents should be happy someone is helping them shape.

  • 20
Posted by c holder 1 year, 11 months ago
@Teresa August
I can speak, have spoken and will continue to speak on relevant issues as i see fit.
Capitalizing your drivel will not change the clarity or truth of my statement.

  • 2
Posted by Leonard B 1 year, 11 months ago
Absolutely nothing is wrong with Principal Farley enforcing the rules. However, we wonder if it was necessary to suspend 250 students from 5 days of vital education without a warning (I am making an assumption here) or a note to the parents. If the students or parents were warned then there is no leg to stand on. I also find it very interesting that other schools do not seem to have this large number of disobedient students or parents. What are we missing here? The rules must be respected and all I suggest is that those in authority should be reasonable. LB

  • 2
Posted by RANDY BRIDGEMAN 1 year, 11 months ago
If what Ms. Henry wrote is accurate, then the invading parents were out of order and should have been politely escorted off the premises until such time as peace was restored. If some parents were carrying on, behaving unseemly like my Godmother used to say, they should be ashamed of themselves. This is no way to handle matters especially in the presence of impressionable teens. I'd like to know how they were able to bypass the security monitor in the first place.

Perhaps rules for the dress code should include an appeals clause to allow parents to voice their disagreement with rulings. This could be done after school hours to prevent disruption of the learning environment.

Discipline is an integral part of education. Adherence to a dress code assists in the instilling of discipline. I remember at school if a student wore attire which was contrary to the dress code, he would simply see the headmaster before school, obtain a permit and that was that. The next day or two, the infringement would've been taken care of.

Yes, emphasis should be on a child's education, but in a holistic sense. That is, all aspects of a student's growth, development and maturity should always be taken into account. The goal should be to graduate well-rounded individuals who possess a sturdy foundation on which to construct a productive, successful life. Seems as if this is Mr. Farley's aim for which he's to be commended.

  • 2
Posted by Pan Wallie 1 year, 11 months ago
Fight on Mr Farley! That is wrong with us, we have to have a decent structured society, without adhering to any standards, rules or guidelines. Enough said.

  • 13
Posted by SANDREA BUTCHER 1 year, 11 months ago
First and foremost Mr Matthew Farley is a PRINCIPAL, not a principle (Sigh, the basics). The Principals deliberated about a dress code and he is enforcing it. It is now WEEK 6 and all infringements should have been rectified.
Take for example G Rosemond, who knows the skirt is supposed to be 2 inches below the knee, but was satisfied to let the child wear a skirt that was 1/2 inch too short for at least four weeks. A man can steal vegetables and get away with it, until he is caught and has to do the time in jail.
Wunna mekking bear sport. Encourage the children to OBEY the rules and avoid these issues.
At St George Secondary the students who did not pay the petty fees and/or the book rental fees had to sit down in the school hall until the fees were paid. All of this talk about children missing classes, up to the Friday children were still in the hall sitting down.

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