School mulls action against principal in pot bust

by Minoru Matsutani

An international school principal arrested Sept. 28 on suspicion of attempting to smuggle marijuana into the country faces further punishment following her suspension, an official of the International School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo said Friday.

“What (Kindergarten and Junior School Principal Shirley Lane) allegedly did is very serious,” said business manager Naruhiko Soga. “Considering her important position as a principal, the impact is not small. We are discussing punishing her severely.

“We only know what has been reported in the media, so we will decide on the punishment after we learn whether she will be indicted or not.”

Lane, who began working for the school in August last year, performed her duties well and had the trust of the children, Soga said, adding that the allegations against Lane have been explained to all the teachers, parents and staff. The parents have been very supportive overall of the school’s efforts to prevent a recurrence and are looking after the students, to whom the news came as a huge shock, he said.

The Metropolitan Police Department alleges Lane, 59, conspired with her husband, Thomas, 62, to airmail a package containing about 5.9 grams of marijuana from Florida to their apartment in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Sept. 22, a police official said. Thomas, who mailed the package, which also contained clothing, was arrested upon his return from the United States to Tokyo.

Lane, who has admitted to the allegation, was quoted by the official as saying, “I asked my husband to send marijuana home.” The American couple also admitted they intended to use the drug.

The International School of the Sacred Heart, founded in 1908 and located in Tokyo’s upmarket Hiroo district in Shibuya Ward, has 600 students from 45 countries from kindergarten to high school, according to the school’s Web site. Both boys and girls aged 3-5 attend the kindergarten, while grades 1 to 12 are girls-only.