Parents of children studying in the Hiranandani Upscale School (HUS) on the outskirts of Chennai have alleged that its director has been harassing the children teaching staff for the past year.
About 500 parents and 50 teachers protested in front of the school in Egattur, Kanchpuram district, on Tuesday. The school offers both CBSE and ICSE syllabi to its 1,600 students. They vented their ire at Mark Curname, a director of the school who hails from the UK, who has allegedly been harassing both students and teachers since he joined the school about a year ago.
Rajesh*, a parent who spoke to The News Minute on condition of anonymity, alleged that Mark did not allow the morning assembly because he does not like the national anthem. He had once asked that the students sing only a portion of it.
On Independence day, Mark insulted freedom fighters, and also former president APJ Abdul Kalam, said another parent who requested anonymity. â€śHe removed the pictures of many freedom fighters and called Independence Day a â€śsad day,â€ť the parent said.
Rajesh alleged that Mark uses derogatory words for the teachers as well as the students.
One parent said that Mark saw the CCTV footage and asked teachers why female students were allowed to leave the classroom while classes were going on. â€śWhen teachers said that the girls were allowed to use the restroom because of their periods, the director asked the teachers not to send them,â€ť he said.
He also said that the director discriminated between CBSE and ICSE students. â€śCBSE students are harassed and told that there is no use in studying this curriculum. They were told they would not have a career after studying that curriculum,â€ť said Rajesh.
Rajesh also said that the CBSE Principal Vasumathi Srinivasan was removed from her job even though she was good at it. He also alleged that a teacher who complained of sexual harassment against Mark was terminated by the school on August 19, 2016.
The school has denied all allegations made by the parents.
In a statement, the school claimed that Vasumathi was on probation for a period for two years and that she did not have a masterâ€™s degree. She was employed as principal because of her experience and that the school could terminate her at any time as she was on probation.
â€śThe school has always inculcated the ideas of sovereignty, secularism and brotherhood among the students and teachers, with the ambition to bring student with an Indian heart and global mind with secular ethos, understanding and appreciating Indiaâ€™s rich culture, tradition and heritage. Allegations about HUS who is imparting nationalism and patriotism among their pupil is farfetched and has been done with only motive to defame the school of its reputation,â€ť said PS Ganesh, Legal Advisor to House of Hiranandani.
Responding to the allegation of girls being denied using restroom, the statement said, â€śThe allegations about restrictions of girl student to use rest room during their biological discharge cycle are beyond any comprehension and do not have any iota of truth. The students are provided with free food made by best cooks and students are at liberty to take food from canteen free of cost or have their own food.â€ť
â€śAs an outburst of suspension and termination of a teacher for physically abusing the child and as a result of relieving the administrative in charge of the school, who has been hand in glove with the said teacher, repeated false complaints have been given to various statutory authorities in vain, as on date and such unwarranted propaganda about the school and its management are being made.,â€ť said PS Ganesh.
Asked about the alleged sexual abuse on a teacher, â€śNo misbehaviour has been committed by the director of the school that too in the nature of sexual comments,â€ť said Ganesh.
The school also denied allegations on discrimination among CBSE and ICSE students, â€śThe allegations made against the school as though there is discrimination between the students of CBSE and IGCSE are baseless and false. In order to provide better education and improve the standards, services of well trained teachers of different nationals are availed by the school for both the Board Students,â€ť he said.
All images from HUS Chennai parent's association/ Facebook