St. Maarten Academy refuses to take 14-year-old back Expelled student seeks redress at Education Complaints Board

POSTED: 09/23/13 1:13 PM

st. Maarten – Anderson Arrindell, a 14-year-old student at the St. Maarten Academy still has not been admitted back to school. Attorney Cor Merx filed a complaint with the Complaints Board for Education yesterday in which he demands on behalf of the student and his mother, Myroegia Leverock, to be heard by this board.

As this newspaper reported last Thursday, the school only wants to take the student back if he signs a strict 10-point contract that contains rules of behavior. Violating one of these rules would immediately lead to expulsion. The student’s mother has refused to sign the contract, saying it is “nonsense.”

In a letter that runs three pages, Merx first describes the conflict that led to the boy’s expulsion. On September 5 there was a fight at the school, whereby the student attempted to separate the fighting parties. Because one of the students sustained injuries, the case was reported to the police.

“Initially the school had a statement from a teacher who supposedly saw that my client was involved in the fight. Later on it appeared that the teacher had not seen it that way and that my client was busy separating the fighting parties,” Merx wrote to the complaints board. “It has been established that there is no other version of what happened. There has not been a criminal investigation either, even though somebody ended up in hospital.”

The fight was not reported to the Education Inspectorate, attorney Merx furthermore notes. The inspectorate was however approached about the proposal to remove Arrindell from the school. This happened, according to the letter, eight days after the fight.

The attorney points out that the inspectorate had ordered the school to re-assess its decision to expel the student. While there is no proof that the young student took part in the fight, Merx wrote, the school board maintains that his client has to be removed from school “unless he signs a contract containing certain conditions.”

Minors are not authorized to sign contracts, according to  Merx. “All procedural rules have been violated here,” his letter states. “It is not even clear whether this is a decision based on civil law or on administrative law.”

The rules about announcing the student’s removal from school have also been violated, the attorney states. “There is no registered letter from the school director or the board.”

More importantly,  Merx insists that the parent or parents and the student must be heard. “The decision to refuse access is given registered and in writing, with reasons to the parents. In the same letter the possibility of objection and appeal is pointed out – but that has not happened in this case.”

After such a letter, attorney Merx pointed out, it is necessary to contact the inspectorate; the parents and the child have to be heard about the outcome of this contact. “Has the director taken a decision in this case and has that been presented to the board? If this is so, where is that decision? Has this been discussed with the parent and the child?”

The attorney furthermore wonders whether the student received a written warning and from whom. The re-assessment the inspectorate ordered is something else than admission under conditions, Merx noted.

He wants to know when the term begins for filing an objection against the decision to accept the student only after he signs the 10-point contract. The attorney writes in his letter that the school is bluntly refusing his client access to school. “Is this not a violation of the Treaty on the rights of Children that St. Maarten also signed? Is this decision not also a violation of the general point of departure of the government and the Minister of Education that contains the message that every child (legal or illegal; that makes no difference) is entitled to education?”

“The child is currently still not admitted to school and he is therefore without any form of education,” the letter continues. “If the letter of September 17 is the removal-letter then the parent and the child have six weeks to appeal this decision or to file a complaint about it. They have not been informed about this. Their authorized representative had to figure this out. For this reason alone the decision is up for annulment.”

The student and his mom ask the complaints board to hear its advice about the situation “before we go for appeal to civil court.”

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