An alumna of the school put up the experiences of scores of students on her Instagram handle, and over 1000 alumni have now written to the school demanding action.

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news Child Sexual Abuse Monday, May 24, 2021 - 13:55

A teacher at a branch of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) School in Chennai has been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by scores of school students. Several students reached out to one of the alumni of the school, Kripali, on Instagram, who posted their experiences from her handle. The students whose stories were recorded alleged that they had complained to the authorities at PSBB, despite which no action was taken against the teacher in question. PSBB is one of the premiere institutions in Chennai, and has branches in Nungambakkam, KK Nagar, and Gerugambakkam, and the allegations are against a teacher who has been teaching at the KK Nagar branch for several decades. 

The teacher has been accused of touching students inappropriately, making comments on students bodies, slut-shaming students, asking a student out, turning up to online class topless, wearing just a towel around his waist, sharing links to pornography with his students. In the experiences of students shared online, one student said, “...and even though I went and complained to the Dean about this, no action was taken against him…” Another student too indicated that the management did nothing about their complaint. while a third student shared that complaints on the said teacher were sent ‘batch after batch’ but no action was taken by the management.

Following the allegations on Instagram, over 1,000 alumni of the school have written to the management, demanding action against the teacher. In their petition, they demanded that the teacher be immediately suspended pending investigation of the allegations. They have also demanded that the teacher should not be involved in any academic activity including grading students’ exams or performing any evaluation for any student till the investigation is completed. “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 added. The petition also stated that the child protection committee and the gender sensitivity committee of the school be suitably appraised of the matter and demanded that an independent investigation against the teacher be put in place with an adequate number of external members immediately.

However, the school in a statement on Monday to parents and students refuted that they were aware of the allegations against the teacher. The school issued an internal statement after the issue blew up on social media, promising to look into the issue, and said, “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.” However, the school denied that these instances were brought to their attention in the past, and claimed they were taking suo motu action on the basis of the social media posts.

It must be noted that the management of the school, which was started by Rajalakshmi Parthasarathy, popularly known as Mrs YGP, has taken problematic stands on the Me Too movement in the past. A video that is doing the rounds of Mrs YGP’s son and actor YG Mahendran, a trustee of the PSBB board, speaking to actor Sowcar Janaki, where the latter shames women for speaking out about sexual harassment while the former eggs her on. “Me Too is something which is bothering me. For cheap publicity, (women are speaking about) what happened years ago, what should have happened, what never happened and what you thought was okay back then, but didn’t pan out the way you thought it would. Is it really necessary?” Sowcar Janaki says, while YG Mahendran approvingly laughs. 

She goes on to say that such actions by women (who are speaking out under Me Too) ends up hurting people in their families and that it is always better for women to be ‘hidden’ from public view, to which YG Mahendra says, “Aha, this is a fantastic thought,” in Tamil. 

NOTE: TNM has not yet named the teacher accused of sexual harassment because we were not able to independently speak to any of the survivors. The story will be updated once we are able to independently verify the allegations.

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