In this, the third part of our interview series on TBI Kelapa Gading, we reveal just how bad things were in TBI Franchise schools in 2009.
When did you first become aware that TBI Kelapa Gading was being mismanaged?
I think I fully realized how acute the problems were about a month in the job. I walked into the school for work (which we all did at least one and a half hours before our first class, by the way, despite the absence of supervision) and the DOS BF called me into his office. He handed me a student complaint form and said, “S*** what do you think of this?” On the form it said, “Mr C**** kicked me in the penis.”
How old was the student making this allegation?
He was eight years old.
Truly shocking. How did you respond?
I said that I found it hard to believe. I said the teacher in question had presented himself in a professional and polite manner and it was difficult to imagine he was capable of such a thing. In all my years of teaching, I had never heard of anything like it.
What did BF say to that?
I found his response bizarre. He said he wasn’t sure whether it could have happened because of the logistics involved. You see TBI uses fold-over desks and BF said that the wooden surface would have offered a lot of cover for the groin area. He wasn’t sure whether it was possible for a standing adult male to be able to kick into that region of the body. He had gone upstairs and tried to imitate the kick from a few different angles and it just didn’t seem likely to him.
Wow (shakes head). Did the parents of the child involved accept this theory of B’s?
I was a teacher who had started one month before. I certainly wasn’t a party to the meetings between BF and the parents, but he did consult me about it. Perhaps he felt confused and needed a sympathetic ear. I know for a fact that the parents didn’t accept C’s innocence in this matter. By the second time I had heard about it the boy’s sister had already produced a witness statement which collaborated the alleged victim’s story.
How would the boy’s sister have witnessed the event?
They were in the same class. This happened quite often at Kelapa Gading. The parents didn’t want to send the driver twice to pick up the kids. Because TBI Kelapa Gading was performing very badly, there were few classes to chose from.
Was C***** disciplined because of these events? How did it pan out?
He was made to write some kind of apology. BF was furious with C**** and yelled at him inside the school. He was infamous for his outbursts of temper. The parents pulled the children out of the school- unsurprisingly. I suppose I never knew what to make of the whole thing. I didn’t know whether it had been true or not.
Was Head Office ever informed of the incident?
Not to my knowledge. Actually, I’m sure BF wouldn’t have told Head Office. He absolutely loathed them. It was him who first introduced me to the idea that they were nothing but a bunch of posers who had no idea about education or anything else. He refused to go to any conferences or workshops they organized. Not that they have many of these really.
Was C**** supervised more closely after this incident?
BF taught about eight hours of class per week. He would rarely have entered the staffroom more than once every month or so. He left the school and went home between 4.30 and 5 pm most days. He didn’t even come to school on Fridays. He was laxest manager you could imagine. In 2009 I became School Manager and then I had access to the files. There were very few of them and the ones there were belonged to the Front office, not BF. In C****’s file there were 40 separate student complaints about his aggressive and threatening conduct. That means one student every week was writing an official complaint about Mr C****. They were very consistent. He was frightening and aggressive and ‘galak‘- fierce.
So there was a massive body of documentary evidence that this teacher was frightening young children and TBI did nothing to protect them?
This is shocking. What action did you take against Mr C*****?
I told him I wanted to observe his children’s classes immediately. C***** was only 20 years old when I started. I really don’t think that BF should even have hired someone so young. Yes, he had a CELTA but he lacked the emotional maturity required of a teacher. It was very clear there were some sort of ‘anger management issues’ that this teacher had. He understood CELTA methodology and could teach grammar quite well but he couldn’t control his own temper.
I went into a children’s class and someone really interesting happened half way through. The lesson had been very good up till that point. As I said, he knew his CELTA methodology well. But then one student, who has probably about seven years old, interrupted him to ask a question. Now this was a request to clarify an instruction. The child wasn’t being naughty at all. He just wanted to know what to do. But a look of rage flashed across the teacher’s face. His whole body language changed. He looked like someone who wanted to start a fight. He stepped towards the child in a kind of angry, confrontational manner and then he remembered I was sitting quietly in the corner and he completely backed down. But I had noticed the look of rage in his eyes and the look of fear in the children’s faces. I thought of the forty student complaints and realized that there was a real problem here.
I approached the school owner and told him that we had to terminate C****. There had been forty student complaints in a year. I had seen him respond with inappropriate anger to an innocent question. He was infamous throughout the school community. He had to go. I told Sutanto, the owner, that I mainly blamed BF as he had offered no supervision or guidance to a 20 year old teacher. But the situation had already deteriorated beyond repair. C***** had to go, even though it would mean losing a lot of money in terms of visas and so on.
Did Pauwsan Sutanto accept your recommendation?
Yes he did. He was aware of C*****’s reputation in the school. He supported my decision.