By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To make way for an "impartial investigation" and to remove the fears of students and parents, the Department of Education (DepEd) urged the school manager of the Bicol Central Academy (BCA) in Camarines Sur to "go on holiday".
"Well informed" of the incident at BCA where bags of students were burned under the orders of the school director, DepEd secretary Leonor Briones ordered DepEd Region V to immediately conduct a thorough investigation.
Briones said the first report submitted by Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad on her confirmed partial details of the incident. The regional director also visited the school, together with counseling counselors who provide psychosocial first aid to the affected students.
"While BCA's school manager called the Schools Division Superintendent (SDS) of Camarines Sur to explain the incident of August 18, a written response demanded by the school office must still be submitted," said DepEd.
DepEd stressed that if school managers are in charge of the incident, it has regulatory tools for private schools: a possible suspension or withdrawal of the work permit from the school; or disqualification from the school to participate in the Education Service Contracting and Senior High School Voucher Program; or non-issuance of favorable tax exemption recommendations, such as import duties.
Although the child protection policy requires a complaint for child abuse or violence at the school director of private schools, DepEd says: "Parents of the affected students are advised to file complaints or administrative accusations against the school administrator with the appropriate authorities."
DepEd further recommends: "the school board to advise the school administrator to take leave – to make room for impartial questioning and to take away the students' fear."
Meanwhile, the department reiterated its commitment to the full and reinforced implementation of the child protection policy and to ensure that students are in a school setting that does not reveal their rights, security and dignity. "DepEd wants to assure parents that the research will be fair and just, and we will not hesitate to impose the necessary sanctions on those who have been proven to have violated the aforementioned policies."