Official says he refused to hand over the keys the day before the strike began

When students arrived on Tuesday morning at the Government Model Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Pattom, they found the office room and the Principal’s office locked.

School Principal N. Retnakumar is now facing disciplinary action for not handing over the keys to a senior teacher before he left to join the indefinite strike launched by the pro-Left government employees and teachers’ organisations, Director of Higher Secondary Education Keshvendra Kumar told The Hindu. Under government rules, if a Principal participates in a strike, he or she has to authorise a senior teacher to take charge as Principal or hand over the keys to the Deputy Director of Education in case no one is available.

“However, the keys were handed over only at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday, the first day of the strike. We have already informed the Minister and the higher authorities about the issue. A decision will be taken on Wednesday,” Mr. Kumar said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had announced strict action against government employees trying to block or prevent other employees from doing their work.

‘Teachers willing’

Deputy Director S. Indira Amma said some senior teachers were willing to take over the duty during the strike.

However, the Principal was not willing to hand over charge; nor did he submit the keys on Monday, she said.

Mr. Retnakumar told The Hindu that the keys were handed over as per the rules. No senior teacher was willing to take charge earlier.

“In the meeting held on Monday afternoon, no senior teacher was willing to take charge as Principal. Since I was participating in the strike, I handed over the keys to the Regional Deputy Director on Tuesday morning,” he said.