An internal probe into a ‘problem teacher' in connection with the fatal injury of a 10-year-old student has angered union teachers, who visited the school premises while their colleagues were talking to investigators.
Following a report handed to Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris on Wednesday, regarding the tragic death incident at Alethriko elementary school in Larnaca, attention focused on the teacher who was in charge of gym class last week when 10-year-old Stavros Georgallis was injured.
The teacher, who has not been named a suspect in Stavros’ death, appears to have been the educator who was supervising students playing basketball last Friday.
When union reps refused to go away, the minister called the police on suspicion they were attempting to interfere with an internal investigation
But things got an unexpected turn when the administrator probing the matter came across information that raised concerns over the educator and any role he might have had at the school.
Minister calls the cops on union teachers
Ministry officials contacted the teacher to inform him that he was being investigated in connection with a probe aimed at gathering the facts of what had happened to Stavros before, during, and after the injury.
When officials went to the school to speak with the principal and other teachers, teachers union representatives from POED also went to the school, angering the minister who reportedly sent a message asking them to leave.
When POED teachers refused to go away, the minister called the police on suspicion they were attempting to interfere with an internal investigation and possibly influencing other educators who were being questioned, including the teacher under investigation.
POED issued a statement Friday condemning any speculation that their colleague might be involved in the death of the school boy, citing concerns over a publication by daily Phileleftheros that appeared to reveal private information.
Teacher was being transferred frequently
The publication had revealed that the teacher was a ‘problem educator’ and had been transferred frequently from to school to school, following complaints submitted by parents.
According to Phileleftheros, the teacher got transferred four times in six years, while there was a negative mark in one of his transfers.
“There are valid questions as to whether private information on all educators are open access to the media or others,” adding that they were calling on the minister to investigate the matter and any possible leaks.
“There is an effort [on the part of the minister] to mislead and draw attention away from the serious issue of safety and well-being in schools, by covering up his personal responsibility and shortcomings,” a POED statement said.
Ministry moves forward with probe
The Education Ministry has been careful not to name the teacher as a suspect. In statement, officials clarified there had been no basis to link the educator’s past to the injury of the school boy.
But sources say ministry officials want to understand the full picture and any possible role he might have had in the incident.
The teacher remains at the school, according to the minister, who says he sees no reason to suspend him during the investigation that could take up to one week to complete.