A pre-school teacher who humiliated a 5-year-old boy for spotting long hair has been temporarily suspended by the school. The boy’s father had written a lengthy email post on Saturday (9 Jul) recounting how the teacher made his son stand in front of the class for sporting long hair, and put a “girl hair clip” on him, “much to the amusement of all the other kids”. The teacher further threatened to repeat the action the next school day if the boy did not cut his hair by then.
In his Facebook post which has since gone viral with over 2000 shares, the boy’s father Eric Cheong said that his son told him that he felt like dying. The father, painted the teacher who he identified as Ms Theresa, as ‘monster’ who the pre-schoolers were terribly afraid of. Eric said:
“What has happened to my son today is just one of the many, I would have to say improper conducts, for an early childhood teacher to be exhibiting. A few other parents also feedback Ms Theresa would use marker or pen that she is holding to poke on our children’s foreheads when they answered wrongly to her questions. She will use a water spray and spray into the kid’s mouth if they ever seen yawning in her class. She had in a few situations, tied up the kid’s legs together if they swing their legs in class.
Just last week, my boy’s classmate vomited in class and she had the decency to make the kid clean up the vomit by herself, even though she was unwell.”
Eric said that besides posting about the incident in his Facebook, he had also escalated the matter to the pre-school’s management.
Zoo-phonics has responded to the parent’s allegations of abuse by the teacher and has temporarily suspended her till it finishes gathering feedback. The pre-school’s director, Mr Vincent Teoh said that once that is over, the school will arrange for a meeting with the parents of the boy and the teacher to sort things out.
The director said: “A simple verbal warning or even standing for a period of time is acceptable. But to humiliate a kid, made to wear a classmate’s hair clip in front of the class, is totally unnecessary and intolerable in a school environment.”
Mr Teoh said the school “does not condone any form of ridiculing a child in front of the class as a form of punishment”, and that teachers found to have done so will be counseled and reprimanded.
In his email about the incident to The Straits Times, the director empathised with the teacher. He acknowledged that the school did not have any formal rules about hairstyles, but said that different teachers “may have different expectations on what constitute a neat hair cut”.
He further said that “it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their child has a reasonably neat hair cut. In the meeting, Mr Cheong did say he was not free when he was asked by the child to have his hair cut. He mentioned that through his son, he was aware that teacher Theresa has been asking his son to cut his hair.”
Mr Teoh also contradicted Mr Cheong’s claims that several other parents had also complained of inappropriate behaviour by Ms Theresa. He said in his email that the “majority of the parents” want the teacher to stay on despite the incident. Adding that the suspended teacher had received several letters of commendation from parents since joining the school in 2011.