Updated: May 28, 2021 8:56:44 pm
Days after a teacher of a prominent school in Chennai was remanded in judicial custody after allegations of sexual harassment against him were made public by students and alumni, a commerce teacher at another private school in the city was suspended Thursday on similar charges.
The school principal and management have been summoned for questioning by the State Child Rights Commission on June 10.
The rights panel and the Tamil Nadu government have clubbed the case of this school with four other schools where sexual harassment allegations against teachers have surfaced recently.
In a series of posts on social media spanning several years, students, both girls and boys, and alumni of the school alleged that the professor behaved inappropriately with students in the guise of being a “father figure” and repeatedly harassed them physically, mentally and emotionally in public. The professor allegedly had access to the personal information of students and would send inappropriate messages to them.
“He used to spank female students under the guise of disciplining them and thrash and verbally abuse male students who questioned his behaviour. If students refused his advances, he would physically assault them, gas light them, comment on the students’ appearances publicly and threaten students with academic retaliation, following which they were forced to apologise to him,” an alumna of the school told Indianexpress.com.
The professor was accused of misbehaving with students who attended his coaching classes and was also accused of seeking out students for “temple visits” after school hours.
On social media, students have also mentioned molestation, groping, physical abuse, hugging without consent, slut shaming, shaming of mothers and discrimination between students based on looks by the said teacher.
Students also alleged that the school management failed to take action when the complaints levelled against the teacher were brought to their notice. Instead, some students were offered feeble apologies while other students who stood up against the professor and were studying in the 11th grade at that time were deliberately held back a year.
“After a few students called their parents to the school, the management instead told the parents that the ‘students are teenagers who are taking things in the wrong way’ “, the alumna said.
In a statement, the school alumni association Wednesday condemned the behaviour of the teacher and rebuked the school for not having carried out relevant background checks of the teacher prior to his employment. “There was no response from the school initially when the allegations came out,” the alumna claimed.
Later, a signed statement detailing the personal accounts of more than 300 current and former students was sent to the Tamil Nadu POCSO department, Child Welfare Department, police commissioner’s office and the school.
Following this, the school released a statement on Thursday and suspended the teacher. In the statement, the school added that an inquiry has been initiated by the Internal Compliance Committee. Promising a transparent and fair inquiry, the school said that the teacher has been directed not to interact with current and former students.
The teacher, who had taught commerce at the school for over a decade, had been terminated from another school in the city in 2005 for the same reason prior to joining the school. However, the previous school had refrained from filing a police complaint.
It is learnt that the all women-police station in whose jurisdiction the school falls is initiating a probe in the matter. However, when contacted, the police declined to comment.
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