Union pleased with measures taken following 24-hour strike

MARIGOT–Four qualified social workers (adult relais), two for Collège Mont des Accords and two for Lycée, will be assigned to the two establishments as soon as possible in one of several measures agreed between teacher’s union SE-UNSA and Chef du Service for education in St. Martin and St. Barths Michel Sanz, following the 24-hour strike organised by the union on Tuesday, April 5.

On that day, some 50 teachers, joined by colleagues from Lycée and Cité Scolaire, but very few parents, marched through the streets of Marigot carrying placards, protesting what they perceived to be an increase of violence in the school, among other problems.

The latest violent incident prompting the demonstration occurred at the College on March 17, when a fight between two students was broken up by a teacher.

Sanz, Recteur’s representative in St. Martin, indicated the social workers will act as mediators between parents and their children, identifying family problems, advising on discipline, and crucially reporting back to the Collège management and teachers any signs of potentially troubled students who could turn violent.

The one-and-a-half hour meeting between both parties was described as “very satisfactory” and productive and included addressing broader issues at the College other than random acts of violence.

“There is a lack of communication between the teachers and the management of the College,” Sanz explained to The Daily Herald, citing one of the grievances brought up by the union. “I advised them to meet with the Principal of the Collège, which they did that afternoon to address the points they are not satisfied with.

“The union stated the interior rules and regulations for the Collège are not applied or respected. Rules are voted on by the administration boards of the establishments. I advised all the different parties to meet together to re-establish these rules, so students know exactly what is expected of them; why rules are in place and the consequences if they break those rules.”

Aside from the social workers, more security staff are also envisaged for the start of the new school year in September.

The two entrances to the College was another point brought up by the union, and is the Collectivité’s responsibility. It was decided that the access code for the entrances would be changed frequently, and students will no longer enter at the teachers’ entrance, but all students will use only the main entrance.

Sanz also stressed that teachers are there to teach, but they must also educate. He said part of the reason teachers feel insecure is due to the fact that rules and regulations were not being applied or reinforced. Counselling is available now for teachers, if needed, from a psychological unit.

As for the parents, Sanz agreed the trouble starts at home and it is all the more important for the Collège to be in direct communication with parents, having meetings with them, and keeping them aware of what is going on with their children.

He added that Territorial Police are already present at the establishment at the start and end of classes, while the Gendarmerie carries out searches for weapons on a random basis. UNSA spokesman Serge Bagat confirmed the union was pleased to be heard and received by Sanz, but said it would remain “vigilant” on the measures proposed.

Source: The Daily Herald Union pleased with measures taken following 24-hour strike