Nelli Tovmasyan was an English teacher for six years at Teghenik Middle School in Kotayk before being fired by the school principal in December 2014.
During the span of a single day she received two warnings about giving a strict reprimand. She believes that in order to fire her they invented a “scenario,” the mastermind of which was the principal.
Tovmasyan used to commute to Teghenik with some of her colleagues from their hometown of Charentsavan by taxi to keep transportation costs down. Her relations with them and some of the teachers became strained as a result.
“There wasn’t any room in the taxi and I was always left out. Getting to work in the mornings was an issue since there was a problem with public transportation,” she said.
On the morning of December 19, 2014 she was called into the school principal’s office to sign in to work. In the same room was Nare Grigoryan, daughter of Principal Laura Grigoryan.
Relations between Tovmasyan and Laura Grigoryan became strained as a result of the taxi issue. Tovmasyan said that as she was leaving the office Laura Grigoryan pushed her and the principal shouted at her to close the office door. Tovmasyan asked her to act more politely. Laura Grigoryan then approached Tovmasyan and said that what had transpired wasn’t inviolable.
“Then I went to the second floor where I saw Nare Grigoryan stand in front of my classroom,” Tovmasyan said. “She was holding her cell phone in such a way to suggest that she was photographing me. She demanded in a haughty tone that I approach her. As I got closer I told her not to talk to me that way and walked towards the classroom. Then Nare Grigoryan came from behind and pulled me by my hand to stop me. I freed my hand with a little push and went to class.”
According to her, the principal then threatened to fire her. Nare Grigoryan apparently fell ill and requested a glass of water. Later, during her second class she was told that Nare Grigoryan went to the hospital. Tovmasyan actually witnessed Grigoryan walking to the hospital.
Then the second scenario began. Tovmasyan went to her third class to teach a classroom of 12th graders. Some of the students hadn’t done their homework and they had their notebooks open to write their assignments. One of the students, Tigran Mouradyan, didn’t want to do his assignment and Tovmasyan convinced him to do so by placing her hand on his head. At that very moment the principal walked in and she expressed her anger that she had heard Tovmasyan forced her pupils to write up the incident between Nare Grigoryan and Tovmasyan.
On December 19 Laura Grigoryan gave Tovmasyan two strict reprimands; one for violating internal disciplinary rules of employment and the other for censuring a 12th grade pupil using irrational methods, hitting Tigran Mouradyan and failing to teach English to 10th and 11th grade pupils.
That same day the Charentsavan Medical Center notified the town’s police department that Nare Grigoryan, who was in their care and diagnosed with hysteria, stated that Tovmasyan had hit her in the chest.
On December 20 Laura Grigoryan fired Tovmasyan based on requests made by the 12-grade pupils, complaints from parents and per the decision by the pedagogical council. Another reason for the dismissal was a “loss of trust regarding a staff member” and “disturbing the moral-psychological atmosphere and performing an act that is incompatible with continued employment.”
In their preliminary report the police found that there was no concrete evidence of Tovmasyan having committed a crime and she never hit Tigran Mouradyan. Nare Grigoryan and Tigran Mouradyan’s mother contacted the police and stated that they had no complaint to file against Tovmasyan and requested that they stop their investigation. Grigoryan retracted her complaint based on the fact that Tovmasyan had been dismissed.
Tovmasyan does not blame her students for filing their complaints. She claims that the principal made everyone turn against her. She also doesn’t blame the teachers since they feared being dismissed themselves.
Laura Grigoryan refuted Tovmasyan’s claims, claiming that she was “very humane” for tolerating Tovmasyan’s presence in school for six years.
Grigoryan had nothing negative to say about Tovmasyan’s knowledge or her capability as a teacher, but she insisted that school was not Tovmasyan’s place to be and that Tovmasyan took advantage of her humaneness. She went on to say that Tovmasyan beat children and a teacher and she couldn’t work there.
“A criminal case was filed against her, and it seems that all the complaints from the students didn’t matter at all,” Laura Grigoryan said. She ignored the fact that Tovmasyan was not charged and there was no proof of children being beaten. Grigoryan also denied Tovmasyan’s claim that she made the pupils file complaints against their teacher. They made verbal complaints at first before Grigoryan insisted that they submit them in writing. She also requested that her daughter and the parents retract their complaints made to the police against Tovmasyan.
“I think there are people behind her who may be using her to act against me,” Laura Grigoryan said.
Photo: Nelli Tovmasyan