A teacher in a Chennai school was suspended after his students shared multiple accounts of sexual harassment, reported The News Minute on Monday. The case came to light after an alumna of the school posted the experiences of the students on Instagram.
The students said that the teacher had touched them inappropriately, commented on their bodies, asked a student to go out for a movie with him and also appeared half-naked during an online class. The teacher was also accused of making derogatory remarks towards the students and sharing pornographic content with them.
“He came to class straight out of his bathroom with only a towel tied to his waist,” one of the students told the alumna and also shared a picture of the incident. Another student claimed that the teacher used to “target” a few of them and “constantly slut-shame and make horrible sex jokes” that caused mental breakdowns in class.
The students claimed that they had complained about the teacher to the school authorities, but no action was taken against him. A student said that the complaints also came in “batch after batch”.
The school management, however, on Monday released a statement for the parents and students, denying that it was aware of the complaints. The management said it will look into the matter and was taking suo motu cognisance on the basis of the social media posts.
“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 read, according to The News Minute.
The dean of the group of schools, where the incidents took place, told The New Indian Express that the school was in the process of filing a police complaint and strict action will be taken against the teacher if the allegations were found to be true.
“Student interest will come foremost,” the dean said. “There are no two ways about it.”
After the matter was reported widely on social media, students of other schools also shared similar incidents of sexual harassment. A student of another branch of the group of schools alleged that a teacher had sexual intercourse with her friend, who was a minor at the time. If this allegation is true, it constitutes as statutory rape.
The student also said that the teacher from the second school had sexually harassed her as well when she was 13 years old. The dean of the group of schools, however, said that the authorities were investigating allegations against the first teacher.
Following the allegations, over 1,000 alumni of the school wrote to the management and demanded that the first teacher was suspended pending investigation of the allegations. In their petition, they also demanded that the teacher should not be involved in any academic activity and was also not allowed to grade papers or perform evaluations of the student’s works.
“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 said, according to The News Minute.
The plea said that child protection and gender sensitivity committees were informed about the incidents, adding that an investigation should be conducted into the allegations by a group comprising an adequate number of external members.
The matter was picked up by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran. Kanimozhi also demanded action against the teacher as well as the school authorities who allegedly failed to act on the complaint of the students.