~ MPC suspends two students ~
SOUTH REWARD--An undisclosed number of students had to be taken to the Philipsburg police station and reprimanded for engaging in fights in the vicinity of their school on Thursday.
Police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson said police had to intervene in at least three "big fights" amongst high school students on Thursday and Friday, noting that fracas are "again becoming an issue of concern."
Information gathered by investigating officers and the community police officer for that district indicated that a St. Maarten Vocational Training School (SMVTS) student confronted a Milton Peters College (MPC) student because the latter student "looked at him" with "a screw face."
This led to a fight between SMVTS and MPC students. SMVTS students fled the scene when police arrived. MPC students who remained on the scene were taken to Philipsburg Police Station where they were reprimanded and remained until their parents picked them up. Henson said the parents were apprised of the situation and urged to have "a serious talk" with their children.
The fight amongst the students continued on Friday morning in front of MPC and SMVTS causing what Henson said had been "major disruption." When the situation was brought under control, students and their parents were sent to the Police Juvenile Department to file an official report. "Because of these unnecessary fights and police [being – Ed] called to restore order, the focus of the police on other important issues was taken away," Henson said in a police press release.
The incident led to an urgent meeting amongst MPC management, Education Department representatives, Prosecutor's Office and the community police officer for that area on Friday. During the meeting parties discussed how best to tackle this situation before it gets worse.
In an invited comment on the matter, MPC General Director Wim de Visser said MPC decided to suspend two of its students for two to five days for fighting. He said MPC together with authorities will decide on a more definitive course of action. "Expulsion might be the follow up as we do not tolerate in any sense violence in and around our schools," De Visser said.
"We are in a process of further developing the quality of education. We offer a lot of extracurricular programmes; we have an intensive tutoring policy. We keep a close eye on to our students, we have a safety programme."
He said MPC needs the support of families in raising their children with good and positive support, morals and values. "This morning relatives of a student came to school and were about to fight outside the school. Fortunately, we could separate them and immediately afterwards the police took them to the police station. Another family went to the police station to report on the incident," De Visser said.
"This morning [Friday – Ed.], I invited the school managers, the police officer, truancy and probation to sit and discuss our policy regarding this incident. We all agreed that a firm statement must be made with expulsion as our ultimate decision.
"The next step in this matter is that the two students will be referred to probation and they will have a policy/treatment for both the students and their families. We will not accept the students back to our school, as our first and foremost importance is the safety of our students and staff," he said.
De Visser advised students to focus on the positive aspects of learning and studying and see the great opportunities education brings. "Another thing we need to do as a community (government, foundations, schools, churches) is to have an intense dialogue on the values and morals in raising children. Get this sensible subject on the table. Why is there so much (domestic) violence? Do we need to sort out discussions and differences in opinion in a fight? Why can't we as humans respect each other, meaning without getting straight into a fight? Why do many people think that violence is a solution for a difference of opinion? Bring this to the table and join forces as schools, police, government, foundations and churches. Say all together we cannot tolerate this and yes, we all, including families of youngsters, will take care for that," he said.
In the event of a fight, De Visser urged students to stay away from it instead of running towards it. "
The fewer spectators, the less it will evolve into something bigger. We have security that can deal with a situation like that. The more crowded the place is, the less overview they have. Do not encourage the incident while standing around. Violence is never beautiful, it is despicable," De Visser said. "Our schools are safe schools because we will never tolerate violence, whatsoever. The consequences will be for the violators," he said.