Dubai: Schools have taken action to reassure worried parents about the safety and security of their children. At least three of them have sent out messages to calm nerves in the wake of the school bus sexual assault case.
The Dubai Modern High School issued two circulars — one before the case came to light and another on the day it was reported in the media — reassuring parents that security has been being beefed up on buses and at school.
The first message, sent by Principal Darryl Bloud on January 13, stated: "One of our parents alleged that in mid-November 2010 an incident occurred on the bus involving their daughter… we have contacted the bus company and ensured that the concerned staff were suspended… [It] is not an assumption of guilt, it is an automatic protection of all concerned…. We advised the parents to report the matter to the police… I repeat that this is an allegation and it is up to the police to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed further."
The second message followed on January 16: "Neither the school nor the bus company has received any new information from the police... Despite what you may read in the media, the suspects were handed over to the police by the school and the bus company."
The message stressed that further security measures would be immediately implemented "including the installation of CCTV cameras in every bus" and that till then a teacher or female attendant would be present on buses leaving at noon.
GIIS School Principal Winston Gomez also wrote to parents stating that he understood their "legitimate concerns" in "light of a very disturbing incident".
The circular details the elaborate measures — over 50 security cameras covering areas from the parking lot, classrooms, outdoor and indoor play areas etc — taken by the school. "Though bus services are outsourced to a leading and reliable operator with a good record, the school takes full responsibility for transportation and is accountable to parents for any breach of safety. Our standing instructions are that no bus will be released after school unless there is a female attendant in it… We have encouraged our teachers also to travel in the same buses."
On Wednesday, Gomez sent out another message informing parents about the newly-installed GPS facility in their school buses along with detailed guidlines explaining how it could be used to keep track of the vehicles.
Winston said he recognised that the greatest enemy is complacency and pledged to do his best.
Kalloor Guruswami, General Manager, JSS International School, said he has written to parents as well. "We have appointed female supervisors on all but two of our 28 buses. Soon we will be installing cameras on all buses. Parents will get an SMS when the bus comes near the pick-up and drop-off point. We are also in the process of setting a user name and password for parents so that they can track the movements and speeds of the buses," he said.
- The writer is a former student of Dubai Modern High School