By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To make way for an “impartial probe” and to allay the fears of students and parents alike, the Department of Education (DepEd) urged the school administrator of Bicol Central Academy (BCA) in Camarines Sur to go “on leave.”
“Well aware” of the incident at BCA wherein bags of students were burned allegedly under the orders of the school’s administrator, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones ordered DepEd Region V to immediately conduct a thorough investigation.
Briones said that the initial report submitted by Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad to her confirmed partial details of the incident. The regional director also visited the school, along with guidance counselors who will provide psycho-social first aid to the affected students.
“While the school administrator of BCA called the Schools Division Superintendent (SDS) of Camarines Sur to explain the incident last Aug. 18, a written response which the education chief demanded has yet to be submitted,” DepEd said.
DepEd stressed that if the school administrator’s accountability for the incident is established, it has regulatory tools for private schools at its disposal: a possible suspension or revocation of the school’s permit to operate; or disqualification of the school to participate in the Education Service Contracting and Senior High School Voucher Program; or non-issuance of favorable recommendation for tax exemption, like import duties.
While its Child Protection Policy requires complaint for child abuse or violence to be filed with the school head of private schools, DepEd said, “Parents of the affected students are advised to file complaints or administrative charges against the school administrator with the proper authorities.”
DepEd further recommends “the school board to advise the school administrator to go on leave – to make way for an impartial probe and to allay the students’ fear.”
Meanwhile, the department iterated its commitment to the full and strengthened implementation of the Child Protection Policy, and to ensure that learners are in a school environment that does not make light of their rights, safety, and dignity. “DepEd wants to assure parents that the investigation will be just and fair, and we will not hesitate to impose the necessary sanctions on those who are proven to have violated the said policy.”