Published: 24th May 2021
Chennai school suspends teacher after nearly 1000 students, alumni accuse him of sexual misconduct
On Monday, over 1000 alumni of the school had written to the school's management, asking it to immediately suspend a faculty member for allegedly misbehaving with students
A prominent private school in Chennai has suspended an Accountancy and Business Studies teacher, after a number of students and alumni accused him of sexual misconduct. Reports suggest that he is being questioned by the Ashok Nagar police. On Monday, over 1000 alumni of the school had written to the school's management, asking it to immediately suspend a faculty member for allegedly misbehaving with students and touching them inappropriately, during the past few years.
This came after a number of students and alumni took to Twitter and Instagram over the weekend to call out the said teacher. Most accounts the students have shared anonymously claim that he had misbehaved with his students when physically in school, had sent them inappropriate messages and had even appeared in an online class where he only wore a towel around his waist.
An Insta story that went viral
The screenshots of these messages were shared by an alumna on her Instagram account. In one such message, the bare torso of the teacher is visible. However, we are yet to verify if these screenshots are authentic. The issue blew up on Sunday after the alumna started sharing accounts of students that she had received via Direct Message. The faculty member in question has been associated with the school for over 20 years, according to the alumni.
As a result, the alumni mobilised a petition calling for his ouster, which over a thousand people - past and present students - digitally endorsed, and sent it to the school.
"It has come to our attention that he regularly harasses girl students and asks them embarrassing and awkward questions that are clouded in sexual innuendos," reads the statement by the alumni. It adds, "He has also physically touched students in an inappropriate manner with sexual intent and that even after complaints from parents about this teacher's behaviour, the school hasn't taken any action other than issuing a verbal warning to this teacher." Several students had also accused the teacher of allegedly threatening the students with low grades, if they complained of his behaviour.
'Will be punished whoever it is'
Speaking with the reporters at a press conference in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu Minister for School Education Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi said that the perpetrator will be brought to justice if the allegations are true. "Even I received this news via WhatsApp yesterday and I immediately got in touch with the school education department. The Chief Education Officer has sought an explanation about this from the school's management. However, the correspondent of the school has responded saying that they have set up a committee and that they're investigating the allegation. They said that they're hearing of it for the first time," he said.
A statement, that is believed to be from the school's management is simultaneously surfacing on social media. However, we are yet to verify its authenticity. The statement says "Contrary to what is mentioned, these kinds of allegations have not been brought to the attention of the management in the past." Apart from immediate suspension, the alumni had demanded the protection of the students and to make sure that the teacher doesn't grade these students.
Buoyed by politics
Politicians like DMK MPs K Kanimozhi and Thamizhachi Thangapanidan also slammed the school over the issue, seeking appropriate action. "The sexual harassment allegations against a commerce teacher has been shocking. An inquiry should be conducted and action must be taken against those who are involved including school authorities who failed to act against the complaints from students," Kanimozhi tweeted. Echoing the same, Thamizhachi too called for appropriate action.
Give him a chance to prove innocence
At the same time, a group of students from the batch of 2007, in a statement said that the teacher has been subjected to social media trials and sensationalism and demanded a free and fair enquiry. "We have known him as an old fashioned, old school, affectionate and brilliant teacher who took his job very seriously. However he was very unconventional in his approach to student-teacher relationships and preferred to remain relevant among his students," it reads.