School principal fired after 'abuse' inquiry

DUBAI — A private school principal has been sacked and banned from working in any Emirates' educational institution after a government inquiry into claims of verbal abuse, cruelty and religious intolerance.

By Mohsen Rashid

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Published: Thu 4 May 2006, 11:20 AM

Last updated: Tue 14 Nov 2023, 11:20 AM

Beatrice Claude, principal of Dubai Gems school, was the subject of a spate of complaints from teachers, parents and school administrators, a Ministry of Education investigation revealed.

It was claimed Claude frequently humiliated her staff by mocking religious doctrines. She banned the mention of the word 'Allah' and even forbade the recitation of the Holy Quran, the Emirate's Zonal Education Management heard.

Claude admitted the allegations but justified her decisions saying she needed them to the religious beliefs of all students, not just Muslims.

The enquiry was told shortly after Claude took up the post of principal she banned many of the school's traditional activities including morning prayers in class and recitation of the Holy Quran in the school functions. Later, Claude began to order teachers not to use the word 'Allah' during lessons.

Nafees Banokhan, science teacher, told the inquiry: "The principal attended a period where I was teaching, and when she heard me talking about the Cosmos and the physical phenomena, which are created by the creator Allah, she immediately held a meeting with the teachers asking them not to talk about the same."

Banokhan added Claude later wrote a remark on her notebook telling her not to mention the name of Allah while teaching a lesson.

Claude also prohibited an Urdu teacher from preparing an anthem to be recited by her students in a school function, because it contains the name Allah. Claude cancelled the anthem and recommended that the name of the Lord Almighty Allah should not be mentioned in front of the students.

Class teacher Lakshimy Mohan Raj described an incident to the inquiry when Claude entered her classroom and began searching students' school bags.

"When she discovered that they had books which are not allowed, she shouted at them and threw the books on the floor," Lakshimy recalled.

The investigation also revealed Claude was unqualified for the principal's post. Her administrative experience was found to be limited and, it was discovered she did have a university degree.

Claude, the inquiry heard, had been transferred from several schools both in the UAE and in her home country, before taking up the position at Dubai Gems.

A decision terminating Claude's services has been approved by Juma Al Salami, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Education for Private and Qualitative Education. The ministry is expected to hand the order to the school's owner on Saturday. A new principal is due to be nominated shortly.

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