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School Year Begins and Teachers already on Strike

Today is day-3 for this new academic year and already problems are arising for the students at the Belize Rural High School in Double Head Cabbage Village.  The students were all sent home today when no teacher showed up to classes.  This morning, our newsroom received a call from a concerned parent who informed us that the children were just wandering around campus waiting to see how the senior administration at the school will handle the situation.  Eventually the students were sent home.  We went to the village this morning and the reports from parents indicated that five out of the seven teachers were not present and neither was the principal. We spoke with Melanie Perez, one of the concerned parents who gave us her account of what transpired.

Melanie Perez

Melanie Perez, Parent: “They called all the students in front of the office and had informed them to please tell their parent that five teachers called in sick and that the principal took a personal day or something of that sort and another teacher also did the same thing today. So I am very concerned because the children were out of classes today and for what reason we are not aware. A text, a message, was not sent out to us, a parent deserves an explanation as to why their children are being sent home early. According to information we are getting, all the teachers went on strike and that there was a meeting called inside the bus while going home yesterday evening and some of the students and even the bus driver or whoever was in the bus overheard them saying that they were not coming in to school   they are having
a problem with a parent who has her son attending the school the long ponytail and that they had a board meeting stating that it was not allowed but the parent is still sending the child to school.”
Love News understands that the sick out is due to an altercation between a parent, her child and the school. We spoke to the parent of the child who told us that the school has been having a problem with the length of her child’s hair.  The school asked her to cut the child’s hair as it is one of the rules that their students must come to school “well groomed”.
Voice of Tanisha Rhaburn, Mother: “My son has been growing his hair from all his childhood life, that is a part of our culture. I mean we never see it necessary to cut his hair. He loves his hair, he’s stated that to the staff when we met at a meeting before and I don’t think if he doesn’t want to cut his hair he should be forced to cut his hair. I mean we believe in our culture. As a parent we are very concerned about it because I think this is a simple matter , I mean the teachers, parents I asked that everybody come out, the board and staff all of us can come together and have a meeting to review this and come to some kind of agreement concerning this I mean this is a simple matter and this is just a child and he has a right to an education. It’s not about not obeying the laws, its just about, I agree with everything else concerning the school rules and rights and everything but at the same time I don’t agree that my son has to cut his hair just because he needs an education or because he has to get an education I think that is not right.”
We contacted the Chairperson of the Board, Ardeth McFadzean.  She declined to comment, however; saying that the situation has only just developed and has not been properly assessed.  We will continue to follow the story and keep you informed.