Pre-school teacher in hair clip saga to remain at centre

A back view of the six-year-old involved in the incident. His teacher found his hair too long and clipped it with a girl's hair clip. The incident came to light after another teacher noticed his "abnormal and despondent" behaviour, his father said in
A back view of the six-year-old involved in the incident. His teacher found his hair too long and clipped it with a girl's hair clip. The incident came to light after another teacher noticed his "abnormal and despondent" behaviour, his father said in a Facebook post.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MADAM SWEE

A pre-school teacher who put a girl's hair clip on a six-year-old boy in front of his classmates will continue to teach at Zoo-phonics School's Serangoon Central branch.

This follows an internal investigation into the matter that blew up after the boy's father posted about the incident publicly on Facebook, sparking a debate on ways to discipline children.

In a five-page letter to parents yesterday, the school said: "The management believes that Teacher Theresa is deemed fit to continue teaching at Zoo-phonics School (Serangoon)."

The boy's mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Swee, 35, said she and her husband are now deciding on whether their son should continue to attend classes at the centre.

 

The incident took place on July 5 and the boy's father, Mr Eric Cheong, 37, shared it on Facebook on July 9. The post has since been shared more than 2,000 times. Mr Cheong said his son had been humiliated.

Following the incident, Ms Theresa was temporarily suspended while investigations were carried out, according to Zoo-phonics director Vincent Teoh.

After viewing closed-circuit television footage, the school said yesterday that the teacher had summoned the boy, borrowed a hair clip from a female pupil and put it on him. Turning him to face the class, she then spoke about how much neater he looked.

The school said the child had worn the clip for only 50 seconds, and that his parents had blown the matter up.

After consulting other parents, it said it found that most wanted the teacher to stay, with only some parents in the boy's class seeking a change in teacher.

Zoo-phonics acknowledged that "some parents regarded her teaching methods as "old school", and said the teacher had been counselled.

However, Madam Swee remains upset.

"Humiliation for one second, two seconds or 50 seconds is still a humiliation which caused everyone he knows and sees daily to laugh at him," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'Pre-school teacher in hair clip saga to remain at centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe