Trouble at Randolph Lopez School of Hope

THE principal at Randolph Lopez School of Hope in Kingston is coming under fire from teachers who have claimed that their concerns regarding constant harassment by an alleged mentally challenged colleague, and disrespect endured at the facility, are being dismissed.

On Monday, teachers who were mostly dressed in black, staged a sit-in to draw attention to the complaints.

Outside the principal’s office were placards which read, “Action time”, “Stop covering up”, “Where is our security and protection?”

Efforts to speak to the principal, Jennifer Spence-Silvera, were not successful as the Jamaica Observer was told that she was locked in meetings with managers and the Ministry of Education and Youth.

One teacher, who requested anonymity, claimed she has been targeted by the alleged mentally challenged colleague since May, after she rejected his request for a date.

She said she is not the only female teacher who has been harassed by the colleague, and when the matter is reported to the principal it is “swept under the rug”.

“We have been speaking to the principal about it and she has not been doing anything. Every time we go to her we are told that we are the problem. Earlier in May he saw me and asked me out and I told him no. He eventually texted me on my phone multiple times, asking me the same thing,” she said.

“Even on Mother’s Day when I looked at his WhatsApp status, he made a collage with me and him with the caption ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. I screenshot the messages and I went up to the principal and told her and she told me that I was the one leading him on. She has not been doing anything. She needs to go,” she added.

Other teachers said that the man attempted to physically attack another female educator last Friday, which pushed her to resign.

“He had been seeking her and she told him she wasn’t interested, and since then he has been doing some creepy stuff. He has been staring at her, sitting in her seat, and blocking her whenever she was walking on the compound,” said a teacher who detailed the experience of the co-worker who resigned.

“She still tried to come to work, and when she went in the office he swung the laptop over her head and she ran out of the office,” she said.

Another colleague, too, expressed worry.

“It is scary; having the knowledge of what is going on and you don’t do anything to make your staff members comfortable makes no sense,” one teacher said.

At the same time, another educator, who said she has been at the school for more than a year, told the Observer she is dissatisfied with the principal’s approach in addressing members of staff.

“I had a recent situation with her and she was very disrespectful, and I had to stand up and let her know. She spoke out in front of everyone and did not address me privately – and I was hurt by that. We can’t have a leader who is not approachable. [When this is the case] you don’t even want to wake up to come to work,” the educator said.