Tamil Nadu teacher suspended over sexual harassment charges

Published on May 25, 2021 02:20 AM IST

The Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) Senior Secondary School, meanwhile, claimed that no complaints were made against the teacher, who taught commerce, in the past.

The incident came to light after an alumna shared an instance of sexual harassment against the teacher on Instagram on Sunday.(File Photo)
The incident came to light after an alumna shared an instance of sexual harassment against the teacher on Instagram on Sunday.(File Photo)
ByDivya Chandrababu, Chennai

A teacher of a prominent city school on Monday was suspended pending an inquiry after multiple allegations of sexual harassment by past as well as present students surfaced against him on social media.

The Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) Senior Secondary School, meanwhile, claimed that no complaints were made against the teacher, who taught commerce, in the past.

A special police team led by Crimes against Women and Children (CWC) deputy commissioner of police H Jayalakshmi visited the school to probe the case. School education minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi told reporters that he has asked officials of the concerned education department to look into the allegations.

“The chief education officer has enquired with the school management. The school has informed us that they will set up a committee to look into the issue,” Poyyamozhi said.

The incident came to light after an alumna shared an instance of sexual harassment against the teacher on Instagram on Sunday. Likewise, several students came forward and accused the teacher of making inappropriate jokes; one of them claimed that he had even invited her for a movie. Another student alleged that the school had failed to act against the accused despite several complaints.

The issue escalated after Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MPs Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran called for strict action. While Kanimozhi called for action against the teacher and school authorities who failed to act despite complaints, Maran wrote to Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal to direct the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to probe the lapses in addressing the issue.

Following the allegations on Instagram, over 1,000 alumni of the school wrote to the management, demanding the immediate suspension of the teacher pending investigation.

The alumni alleged that despite several complaints against the accused, who has been teaching for more than 20 years in the school, authorities did not initiate any action besides a verbal warning.

The alumni noted that the accused routinely harassed girl students, physically touched them with sexual intent and warned of retaliation if they complained.

The alumni also said that the teacher had access to contact numbers of all students since classes had moved online in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In their petition to school authorities, the alumni demanded that the teacher be excluded from all academic activity, including grading students in their exams or evaluating them till the investigation into the case is completed.

“Ensure that the identity of minors and school children are protected, and no adverse, penal, or retaliatory action is taken against them in any regard,” the petition added.

“It pains us that despite the fact that complaints and concerns about (the accused, name withheld) has been escalated in the past, it has not been dealt with the rigorous expectations of an institution like PSBB and we hope that the same will be addressed effectively now.”

A section of students belonging to the 2007 batch, however, came in support of the teacher, and demanded a fair probe into the incident.

In a statement later in the day, the school refuted charges that complaints against the accused were raised in the past.

“We would like to assure you that our school has zero tolerance towards any behaviour that adversely affects the physical, emotional and psychological well being of our students,” the statement signed by the principal and dean of the school said.

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