Teacher who 'humiliated' pre-schooler suspended

A teacher has been suspended by a pre-school after a parent made a public complaint about her behaviour towards his son.

A Facebook post by Mr Eric Cheong on Saturday accused the teacher at Zoo-phonics School's Serangoon Central branch, identified as "Ms Theresa", of making his son stand in front of the class for sporting long hair, and then putting a "girl hair clip" on the boy, "much to the amusement of all the other kids".

Mr Cheong added that the teacher threatened to repeat last Tuesday's action if the boy's hair was not cut by the next school day.

In a statement to The Straits Times yesterday, Zoo-phonics director Vincent Teoh said the teacher has been "temporarily suspended", pending an investigation.

Mr Cheong alleged in his Facebook post that other parents have complained of inappropriate punishment by Ms Theresa.

Mr Teoh said that once the investigation is completed, the school will arrange a meeting between the teacher and Mr Cheong and his family. Mr Teoh added that the school "does not condone any form of ridiculing... as a form of punishment", and that teachers found to have done so will be reprimanded.

While the school does not have regulations governing hairstyle, Mr Teoh noted that teachers "may have different expectations on what constitutes a neat haircut".

He said: "It is the parents' responsibility to ensure that their child has a reasonably neat haircut."

Zoo-phonics School is a private enrichment centre registered with the Ministry of Education. It runs kindergarten and enrichment classes at franchise outlets islandwide.

According to Mr Teoh, the suspended teacher has received several letters of commendation from parents since joining the school in 2011. The "majority of the parents" want her to stay despite the incident, he added.

In his post, which has been shared over 1,500 times, Mr Cheong said he was worried about the psychological impact of the incident on his son.

He wrote: "A simple verbal warning or even standing for a period of time is acceptable. But to humiliate a kid... is totally unnecessary and intolerable in a school environment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2016, with the headline 'Teacher who 'humiliated' pre-schooler suspended'. Print Edition | Subscribe