‘More like a business than school’: Teachers of Loyola School complain against principal

From moral policing to suspending them, teachers of the school claim the principal rules with an iron fist.
‘More like a business than school’: Teachers of Loyola School complain against principal
‘More like a business than school’: Teachers of Loyola School complain against principal
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From not paying enough attention to academics to harassing teachers, complaints against the principal of Loyola School, a private, Jesuit-run higher secondary school for boys, in Thiruvananthapuram have come pouring in.

Teachers at the school have accused Father Devassy Paul of bullying them, even going as far as suspending teachers who defied him.

In a bid to “change the whole pattern”, he even put an end to La, an inter-school festival that the school has hosted for the last 25 years.  

“The fest was started to boost students’ confidence in their capabilities – they did everything from the planning to inviting other schools to designing the brochures. The fest was widely appreciated by other schools. But Father Devassy Paul said he is changing the whole pattern. He took a unilateral decision, as is the case with other issues, in fact. He just doesn’t take teachers into confidence in any matter,” says Cyril*, a teacher.

Another allegation raised by teachers is that he also stopped the State Syllabus class, which were for students of Classes 11 and 12. These classes were started to help accommodate students who weren’t very strong in their studies.

“It was great that the school had such a system in place to begin with, but he has put an end to it,” adds Cyril. “He has simply admitted students to Class 11 without considering their academic merits. When we asked him why, he said he had interviewed the students.”

According to teacher, Father Devassy gives more importance to non-academic things, rather than academics. “He is keen to fit ACs in classrooms. He bought smart boards for every classroom and spent Rs 1 crore on them. He then said we can collect money from students for these boards. It’s more like a business than a school. These smart boards are of no use for students who don't come from privileged backgrounds,” says Cyril.

Teachers claim that they can’t even speak to one another without the principal berating them. “If we stand in front of the canteen for more than five minutes and he happens to see us, he immediately takes offence. When teachers were seeing off the students of a primary class who had gone for a picnic, one of the boys made a noise. The principal immediately screamed at teachers, asking them to leave. It takes about 5 minutes to walk from the CBSE to the ICSE classrooms; according to him we’re always late,” claims Cyril.

According to another teacher, Reshmi*, there are several instances of the principal bullying teachers: “Two years ago, we were talking about training some boys for a dance for the school festival. One teacher, who was around 50 at the time, said she was too old and couldn’t train the students in dance any more. He immediately asked her to quit.”

Instances of moral policing too abound. “About three years ago, we were allowed to wear salwar-kameezes by the school. Some teachers began wearing leggings with their kurtas. Someone complained and he has banned us from wearing leggings and, more bizarrely, asked us not to leave our hair loose,” says Reshmi.

Teachers also allege that Father Devassy doesn’t come from an academic background, but used to work as a medical representative. He taught for one year at the school before becoming principal.

“He only taught three chapters in the whole year,” alleges Reshmi.

When TNM contacted the principal, he denied the allegations.

According to the principal, parents had complained against the La Fest saying it distracted students.

“Even though the fest is for a single day, students spend around 6 months organising it. They then find it difficult to focus on their studies,” he says.

When asked about stopping the State Syllabus class, he says, “That was a decision taken by the management. This school is privately run and we can’t consult teachers for every decision taken. Compared to other private schools, teachers enjoy a lot of freedom here. We interfere only if we feel someone is misusing their freedom, otherwise everything is democratic here.”

Teachers say they are too scared to complain against him, for the priest is part of the management board. “Even in PTA meetings, we aren’t allowed to speak. We simply attend the meetings, listen to them and return. If we speak up, we know he will find a way to punish us. Suspending teachers has become common now,” says a teacher who didn’t wish to be named.

*Names changed on request

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