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Education department yet to reach father over autistic boy’s injury

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A father has said he will not rule out legal action if authorities fail to address an injury his autistic son sustained during a school trip at the end of June.

As reported in The Royal Gazettelast week, Romone Smith said his son, M’illion Smith, 7, cut his foot on the rocks at Pontoons in Spanish Point while under the care of a teacher at Prospect Primary School.

He said that the teacher failed to fill out an incident form and told him the injury had been cleaned and assessed.

However, Mr Smith said that when he took his son to the hospital the next day, having discovered a “very large gash”, medics informed him that M’illion required two stitches to the wound.

Mr Smith said that he went to the school to speak to the principal and the teacher was called in to discuss the matter. He said that the teacher was “instantly triggered” when he requested she give him an incident form and that she had to be “lightly restrained” by the principal.

He said he called the police, who told him that the Department of Child and Family Services would be involved, but had yet to receive a call back. He also called Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, who had apologised for the incident and asked Mr Smith to contact him on his mobile phone.

Mr Smith said: “I called Diallo last Tuesday but he gives me the runaround. He has not called me back. Not only do I not know who is dealing with it, why has no one called me?

“I have heard nothing from [the Department of] Child and Family Services and my phone is on 24/7.

“I don’t have any confidence in the education system, nor do I have any confidence in the services put in place to protect children. Here we have a case in the public view and I don’t have anyone reaching out to me to get this rectified. I plan on getting in touch with Child and Family Services and also Kalmar Richards [the Commissioner of Education].

“I believe she will get something done but why is it taking so long?

“I am ready to go to court. I am ready to have every party involved. No one has reached out, not even to even comfort me.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education said last night that an investigation had been launched, and that the ministry valued the safety of all students and takes the welfare of young people very seriously.

She added: “It was disheartening to learn of this particular incident.

“Since the reporting of this matter, the ministry has commenced an investigation. As the incident is under review, public comment is limited. This is to ensure the integrity of the process.

“Additionally, the Department of Education has made several efforts to contact the parent to discuss the matter and to allay any concerns. The department has yet to make contact, but looks forward to a resolution for all concerned.”

The Department of Child and Family Services did not respond to questions by press time.

A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Police Service said: “The Bermuda Police Service can confirm that an incident was reported to police by Mr Romone Smith concerning his young son.

“It was determined that this was not a criminal matter. However, the BPS did refer the incident to the Department of Child and Family Services.

“We can also confirm that police have spoken with Mr Smith on several occasions prior to his report and he was given the appropriate advice on the way forward.”

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Published August 24, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated August 24, 2023 at 7:44 am)

Education department yet to reach father over autistic boy’s injury

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