Sabah minister explains why principal accused of inappropriately texting students still working

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 19 — A headmaster alleged to have sent sexually suggestive messages to at least two male students has been allowed to continue working at the same secondary school in Sabah, pending investigations.

State Education and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob said the authorities have yet to make a conclusive finding concerning the principal who is in his 50s, but that the man will eventually be summoned before a disciplinary board.

“This is a serious case, and to me it should be, because this is of the parents and public interest, it should be handled properly.  We should be very clear with the result of investigations.

“I don’t want to jump to any conclusion, or take action without proper proof and procedure,” Dr Yusof said when asked if the Education Department was taking action after a police complaint was filed against the principal.

Earlier this month, The Star reported the mother of a 14-year-old boy from the same school as saying he had received intimate text messages from the headmaster, which included offers for dinner and movie treats if he did well in examinations.

According to the news report, the boy’s parents complained about the inappropriate messages to the school authorities but received no response until they filed the police report and were allegedly pressured to withdraw it.

Dr Yusof explained that the state education authorities’ investigations may appear slow, but it did not mean the matter was being swept under the carpet.

“We need to investigate thoroughly, not just make assumptions. We need proper proof, and so far, our investigations are not completed,” he said.

Dr Yusof said preliminary checks have so far shown only two male students were involved, but emphasised that the case is being taken seriously as it involved a school’s principal.

He also indicated that fair treatment should be accorded the accused on the legal presumption of innocence till proven guilty.

“I’m not saying he should be convicted, but as a teacher, he should have been responsible for the kids. Parents put their trust and the responsibility of the students to them,” the minister said.

Dr Yusof also warned all teachers that stern action will be taken against those found guilty of such incidents, including expulsion from the civil service.

“This is a reminder to all teachers, and superiors, when it comes to jurisdictions on students, they shouldn’t be exploited and jeopardise the teaching institution,” he said.

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