TAMIL NADU

Watchman hoists flag, headmistress transferred

MADURAI JAN. 28. The headmistress of the Tirumangalam Girls' Higher Secondary School, N. Arunadevi, was transferred today by the Education department, after an enquiry revealed that the national flag was hoisted by a watchman, on the Republic Day, ``in the absence of teachers''.

The Chief Educational Officer, Kanna Kalyanasundaram, issued a memo and instructed Ms. Arunadevi to assume charge as the Headmistress of the Melur Government Boys' Higher Secondary School with immediate effect, under a mutual arrangement. The Headmistress of the Melur school was shifted to Tirumangalam.

Further, the CEO decided to withhold a day's salary for all 45 teachers of the school. Top officials rapped the teachers for absenting themselves en masse on the day of national significance. It is learnt that the teachers had done so because the Republic Day was on a Sunday.

According to Ms. Arunadevi, she had issued a circular that the flag would be hoisted at 8.30 a.m. But since she had to attend a condolence that day, she informed one of the office assistants to make alternative arrangements, thereby inviting action.

In accordance with the procedure, she should have given a written statement to the Assistant Headmaster. Ironically, the school had witnessed a phenomenal change, both in terms of infrastructure and academic achievements, during her tenure, parents said, and regretted that she had to be punished for a procedural lapse. They blamed a section of the media for ``blowing the issue out of proportion''.

While the students had reportedly said the flag was hoisted before the scheduled time, the watchman, Veerapandian, was said to have asserted that he was invited to hoist the flag by students at 9.00 a.m. after they became impatient over the absence of the teachers and the Headmistress. A few teachers stated that when they were proceeding to the school around 8.15 a.m., they found the students returning saying that the function was over.

Further enquiries were likely against the watchman, who, officials claimed, had been seeking a transfer for long. Ms. Arunadevi, had in the recent past complained to higher authorities of ``certain irregularities'' on the part of the watchman, officials added.

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