A 59-year-old teacher at one of the top schools in Chennai has been arrested over allegations of sexual misconduct during virtual classroom sessions. The teacher, now suspended, faces charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act after complaints by students of the Seshadri Bala Vidhya Bhavan School in the city’s KK Nagar area.
The police have also listed charges of outraging modesty and sharing sexually explicit material under the IT Act.
Over the weekend, many former and current students had alleged sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour by the male teacher in person, during virtual classrooms and even through text messages. A screenshot shared, say students, shows him bare-chested wearing just a towel. Ms Kripali, a former student, had collated all complaints and shared it without revealing the students’ identity.
A few others have also alleged that the school knew about the alleged misconduct but chose to ignore it.
Singer Chinmayi, who was at the forefront of the #MeToo movement from the Tamil film industry, too had shared screenshots.
On Monday morning, DMK MP Kanimozhi tweeted about the incident and demanded action. “The sexual harassment allegations against a commerce teacher in PSBB School, Chennai, have been shocking. Inquiry should be conducted and action must be taken against those who are involved including school authorities who failed to act against the complaints from students,” she said.
Later that day, the school suspended the teacher and constituted an enquiry. The police were informed.
The school denied it had any knowledge of the teacher’s alleged behaviour and appealed to all concerned “to await the outcome of the investigation”.
“The school has always had a zero tolerance against any behaviour that adversely affects the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of our students,” the school said in a statement.
Students of at least two other well-known schools in the city have also named few teachers, alleging sexual harassment and have sought action.
A former student at one of the schools, who did not want to be named, told NDTV: “I’ve received around 200 complaints, some have suffered even sexual assault. I am trying to get in touch with the management to initiate an enquiry now.”