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School CP - April 1999

Nassau Guardian, 18 April 1999

Bahamas Academy probe thwarted, business manager to resume duties

A torrent of public criticism was unleashed following the caning at the school on February 12 this year. Kenneth Deveaux, the school's business manager, had disciplined the student in front of fellow classmates. The boy's parents claimed that Mr Deveaux had administered over "70 blows" in the process.

But the school at the time insisted that Mr Deveaux had acted within the prescribed disciplinary guidelines.

"The intent of corporal punishment is never to injure, but to reprimand," the school said. "The behaviour of the student in question warranted corporal

punishment, and thus it was administered as had been done in all other such cases. When the student left school on Friday, we were unaware of any undue negative reaction resulting from this punishment."

The school refused to say anything further about the incident. Little else about the incident has publicly emerged.

In Wednesday's statement, the Board said:

"Following a lengthy and detailed process, The Bahamas Academy School Board was unable to come to a full determination on the incident that occurred on February 12, 1999, as it lacked access to vital evidence.

"Despite its most determined efforts and operating within the framework of its terms of reference, the investigative committee, appointed by the Board four weeks ago, was unable to gain an interview with the student involved.

"With the obligation to protect the privacy of the persons interviewed, the Board feels that it would be inappropriate to release to the media the information gathered in the course of the investigation. The administrator involved in the incident will resume his duties as Business Manager of the school as soon as possible. The discipline policies in all of our schools are presently under review by our conference's board of education. In the meantime we have suspended the use of corporal punishment until this review is completed."

Sharp lines of demarcation were drawn as a result of the caning. Members of the public were sharply divided about the actual use and intention of corporal punishment in schools. There were those who felt it should be thrown out completely, and others who supported its use.

The boy's parents insisted that their son had been severely beaten because he had been accused of hitting Mr Deveaux with a pen.

"He is terrified, really, to go back on campus, but other than that, we are working with him," the boy's mother said.

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� Colin Farrell
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