by Akram Mohammed - Deccan Herald - India

One of the guidelines issued to schools by the Department of Public Instruction, following an increase in cases of sexual assaults, was mandatory police verification of all male staff in schools.

Steps include ascertaining the antecedents of the teacher, by conducting background checks with their neighbours. These measures initiated by the Police has put the staff in an embarrassing situation, allege teacher associations. The male teachers were being stigmatised, they contend.

Recently, a PET teacher of a school under Saraswathipuram police station limits, in the city, was summoned for verification. “Following his return from the police station, other staffers in the school looked at him as if he was a suspect in sexual assault cases. This incident lead him to lodge a complaint with us,” said P S Rajashekarmurthy, president of Karnataka State Unaided School-College, Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff Association.

Another incident occurred at Mahaveer Jain Vidyalaya under Kuvempunagar police station limits. Police personnel, who approached the school, requested the male staffers of the school to visit the station and leave their fingerprints.

While the Association maintains that such precautionary measures are necessary, it causes embarrassing situations for male staffers, some of whom have served for three to four decades.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Sudhakar S Shetty, Honorary President of CBSE, ICSE and State Syllabus Private Schools Management Association, said, the Association has taken the complaints of the male staff seriously. “Even if the Police want to implement the guidelines, they should show some sensitivity. If not, the teachers become victims of harassment,” he said.

“Teachers are not criminals. Such measures affect the education system, which is already hit by a severe shortage of teachers. If police go around questioning their neighbours about their activities, not many will come forward to work as teachers,” he said.
So, the Association, along with the teachers association, will hold a meeting on such complaints being raised by teachers, later during the week.

‘No question of stigma’

When contacted, Deputy Director of Public Instruction H R Basappa said, such complaints have not come to his notice. “It is mandatory for teachers to register in police stations and there is no question of causing anybody embarrassment. The teachers should realise that such actions are for the welfare of students, so that if something goes wrong, the guilty can be brought to the book,” he said.

Police Commissioner, M A Saleem said that policemen were visiting all schools to collect the required information and were not summoning teachers to police stations. “For new appointments, thorough background checks are being done.

The guidelines to ensure the safety of children is being done in an enthusiastic manner, and police presence has been increased near schools in the morning and the evening. The bottom line is that incident that were reported in Bengaluru schools should not be repeated in the city,” he said.

Police sources said, they were approaching schools and convincing the staff about the importance of collecting the information. On complaints of ’embarrassment’, the source said, it is better than the ’embarrassment for the society’ if a teacher sexually assaults a student.