“Greetings from the Gaudium School! With a heavy heart, we are informing you that we had to terminate a couple of children from the Gaudium School with immediate effect, due to the misconduct of parents for being disrespectful towards the teachers and the Principal.”
This was the message that was sent out to a few parents on February 6 after the reputed school, located in Hyderabad’s Kollur area, terminated at least three students.
The crime? The parents of these students were part of a WhatsApp group that discussed issues pertaining to the welfare of their children in the school.
In a detailed statement, the school said:
“The school has been informing you from time to time during orientations that we have an open door policy to discuss your concerns in a right approach. At times you get influenced by the issues that are not pertaining to you in social groups, resulting in worry and anxiety about your child that leads to negativity towards your child’s school. It is a vicious trap that your child finally gets penalised for. We expect parents to support us in working towards the holistic development of your children but not indulge in unnecessary issues against school (sic).”
Vivek Singh, one such parent, says that both his kids, who received the title of ‘Student of the Year’ in their respective classes last year, were forced to leave.
Vivek, who was part of the WhatsApp group and whose children studied in Class 2 and Class 3 at the school, said that the entire issue began last month.
“It was in January when all parents received an invitation to join the WhatsApp group via an email id called Unofficial Gaudium Parents Networking. Many people joined and in the last week of January, some of them began discussing issues that their children were facing at school,” Vivek narrates.
On February 1, the school sent out a long email to all parents, a copy of which is with TNM.
The school claimed that it was always open to suggestions, adding that it was an ‘unethical’ move by the parents to be part of such a WhatsApp group.
“It was pathetic to listen to our primary geckos (students) who approached our Principal, complaining about each other’s parents by bringing up the conversations that the parents are having among themselves in the social group. It is very ironical that the children are reading WhatsApp messages and bringing up the discussions with their teachers, classmates and bus mates, leading to ugly situations,” the school said.
The school claimed that the ‘prefect council’, consisting of students from Class 7, 8 and 9, drafted a petition to the parents to dissolve the social group.
Vivek says he disregarded the email thinking it was none of the school’s business
“Since it was not the school’s business, I ignored it. On February 5, my girl came crying home and said that her teacher had asked her if her father had left the WhatsApp group. I don’t know what the teacher told her, but I consoled my child and told her not to worry about it,” Vivek says.
A day later, at around 9.45 am, Vivek says that he received a call from his son’s class teacher.
“She began complaining that he had used bad language against a teacher and was misbehaving in the bus since several months. I felt it was impossible, as my son adores that particular teacher. I also asked them why they didn’t raise this issue when I met them several times, including last month,” says Vivek.
“Just a few months ago, I told them to communicate with the parents, so we can collectively address this, and they don’t hurt the children,” he adds.
By 10 am that day, Vivek was forced to collect his children.
“Even then, we were not allowed inside the school and my kids were held by security staff and not released till they received instructions from the school. My daughter later told me that she was asked if her father had left the WhatsApp group. When she said that she didn’t know, she was asked to collect all her belongings,” Vivek says.
“It is arrogance on part of the school. Around 35 people have now left the WhatsApp group since the incident took place,” he adds.
In a press release issued later, the school said, "Vivek Singh was verbally aggressive with the teacher and the coordinator when he was asked to counsel his ward’s misbehaviour and informed the Coordinator that he would not want his children to continue in the school and he picked them up from school right away without meeting the Principal. He has been brash and rude with our staff from day one and troubled one of the teacher to the extent where she resigned."
However, it did not respond to allegations on the WhatsApp group.