COIMBATORE: The School Education Department (SED) has suspended the headmistress of Pudupalayam Panchayat Union Primary School in Coimbatore, for allegedly forcing a 10-year-old Dalit girl to clean the school toilet. The department took the action on Tuesday after conducting an inquiry with the headmistress and the affected students.
Nearly 40 students are studying at the school in Periyanaickenpalayam block. S Kumareshwari has been working there as the headmistress. Sources said, in the first week of February, the headmistress had forced three Dalit girls from Pudupalayam studying in class V to clean the school toilets. Kumareshwari had also reportedly hurled abuses against the students based on their caste. The students had informed their parents about this issue.
Meanwhile, father of one the girls who was made to clean the restrooms, along with members of Students’ Federation of India lodged complaint with the Periyanaickenpalayam police on February 13 seeking action against the headmistress under SC, ST (prevention of atrocities) Act. The complainant, said, “After returning from school on February 11, my daughter was seen disturbed. She also refused to go to school the next day. We came to know that citing her caste, she was forced to clean toilets by the headmistress. Due to this, my daughter refused to go to school for two days.”
Sources said the police are yet to take action against Kumareshwari. Moreover, parents of the three girls had submitted a petition to the district administration against the headmistress on February 17.
When contacted, District Educational Officer (in-charge) S Rajalakshmi said, “We conducted an inquiry on the issue with the headmistress and students. Based on the inquiry report, the headmistress was suspended on Tuesday evening.” When asked about the delay in taking action against the headmistress, Periyanaickenpalayam Block Educational Officer J Krishnamoorthy said, “When the issue came to our knowledge, DEO R Geetha was transferred to Dharmapuri district as Chief Educational Officer (CEO).”
“After a new official took charge as DEO, we have conducted the inquiry and took departmental action against the headmistress,” he added.