HIROSHIMA – The principal of a junior high school in Hiroshima Prefecture apologized Wednesday after a boy killed himself over an incident stemming from a clerical mistake.
The school last year refused to support the graduating student’s high school entrance application because its records wrongly showed that he had a petty theft record.
The 15-year-old killed himself on Dec. 8 after the school informed his parents that it would not issue a personal recommendation to his chosen high school because his student file stated he had been caught shoplifting during his first year at the school.
The school later investigated the matter. It found that the allegation was false.
The boy had hoped to take a private high school’s entrance examination, but applicants were accepted for the exam only upon receipt of a recommendation from their junior high school.
Principal Hiroshi Sakamoto appeared before a school assembly and apologized for the error and for lying about the reason for the boy’s death.
Despite knowing the boy had committed suicide, a day after his death the school falsely stated that he had suffered acute heart failure.
A review of the case of the boy’s death found that a teacher who entered the shoplifting charge into the school’s records had been informed of it verbally by another faculty member. The actual culprit was a different student, but the record was attached to the name of the boy who later killed himself.
The administrative mistake was noticed during an October 2013 meeting at the school, located in the town of Fuchu, shortly after the theft. The faculty members who attended the meeting made the necessary corrections in the documents they had, but the changes were not reflected in the school’s computer system.
Sakamoto told reporters Tuesday that the school had no one in charge of vetting computer data at the time.
The boy skipped a meeting with the school and his parents scheduled for Dec. 8, and killed himself that day.
The town education board said in cases of student misconduct, a teacher should have compiled written records such as a statement from the student addressing the incident and the opinions of guardians, but in the boy’s case, there were no such records.
“Our child would never have taken his life if the school’s data management had not been sloppy and the school had not made the mistake,” the boy’s family said in a statement.
The board said it will set up a third-party panel to investigate a possible causal relationship between the career guidance and the student’s suicide.