Headline — 04 September 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
$40,000 for Joshua Perdomo; $0.00 for poor school children

At Ladyville Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, poor children are being denied an education due to unpaid bills, while the Cabinet Secretary’s son was given a write-off of $40,000 by Cabinet

LADYVILLE, Belize District, Mon. Sept. 2, 2019– Dozens of children who are students at the Ladyville Seventh Day Adventist Primary School were denied their right to an education when they and their parents, who are indebted to the school, were turned away this morning, Monday, on the first day of the new school year.

When at least three media houses turned up to cover the story of children being turned away from the school because of money owed, the media representatives were ordered off the school’s compound upon the instruction of the school’s principal, L. Acosta, who even called Amandala editor Russell Vellos to complain that there was no story to cover at his school, and wanted him to call back his reporter.

Principal Acosta sent a message to the school warden that he would come down and speak to the press, but he never did, and everyone left—without hearing the school’s explanation for why children, dressed up in new uniforms for the first day of school, were not allowed to enter their classrooms.

Among the children who were not permitted to enter their classrooms at the school this morning were three children of a single mother, who told us that she has been cleaning the school’s toilet for three years so that she could pay the school for the education of her children.

Idolly Neal, 36, told us that she never collected a dime for cleaning the school’s bathroom, because the school told her that her labor would be credited toward her children’s fees.

“My children are still not in school today,” she lamented.

When she was asked how much money she owes the school, Neal, 36, said she owes the school $180.

Neal said that her oldest child who is attending the school is 14 years old, and is in Standard 5.

Compare the $180 Neal owes her children’s school to the Dean Barrow Cabinet write-off of over $40,000 for Cabinet Secretary Carlos Perdomo’s son, Joshua Perdomo.

Neal said that the school made her stop cleaning the bathroom.

“They got another young lady who was cleaning the bathroom so that she could pay the fees for her four children,” Neal explained, “but this morning, the young lady’s four children were not admitted to their classrooms.”

Another woman who spoke in a heavy Spanish accent told us that she helped her husband reduce the cost of education for their children.

“I am not a lazy woman who sits in my house. I come, clean the bathroom and the school credit   me with $400, and now, I only owe the school $100,” the woman said.

Idolly Neal said she has been cleaning the bathrooms for 3 years. “I used to clean the bathroom from Monday to Friday,” she said.

Another parent described what happened to them and their children this morning as “outrageous.”

One parent told us that over 100 children were sent home because their parents were unable to pay the arrears owing to the school.

Another burning issue on the minds of the parents of children attending the school is the increase in the cost of registration. Previously, it used to cost $25 to register a child, but that price has shot up by 100 percent to $50 per child.

Sarafina Bull, who has a son and two nephews attending the school, said, “This is so sad for the parents.”

“When they want help for the school, they always send a note; why they didn’t send a note this time? I don’t know how it changed from $25 to $50. I don’t know what is going on here. It’s really sad because a lot of parents left here with a lot of children. What are they going to do, just sit at home with their children?” Bull questioned.

One woman who did not want her name to be used said that her daughter was crying when she went back home.

“So I jumped on the bicycle to find out exactly what was happening at the school,” the woman said.

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Deshawn Swasey

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