National

Kobe educational official and school principal concealed bullying records in suicide case

JIJI

A senior official of the Kobe Board of Education instructed a junior high school principal to cover up interview-based memos that proved a student who committed suicide in 2016 was bullied.

The memos were produced chiefly by teachers when interviewing six students and were kept at the school in Tarumi Ward for five days after the 14-year-old girl killed herself, the board of education told a news conference Sunday, citing an investigative report by lawyers.

According to the report, the school’s principal told the girl’s family in March last year that the memos did not exist when they asked for information. The denial was made as advised by the board’s chief instructor over school affairs.

The principal, who is no longer at the school, also prevented the memos, which depicted in detail how the student was bullied, from being submitted during evidence preservation procedures initiated by the Kobe District Court at the request of the family.

The board’s school affairs official is believed to have thought that if the memos came to light at the court, the family would have again demanded the disclosure of information again, and the related paperwork would have been burdensome, the lawyers report pointed out.

Additionally, the report said the principal hoped to avoid a backlash from the family that was expected to follow the memos’ revelation. The lawyers group stressing that the acts of the principal and the board official should be condemned.

A third-party panel set up by the school board said in a report last year that the memos had been discarded. But the current principal of the school found them and reported it to the board. The family was informed of the existence of the memos earlier this year.

At the news conference, Jun Nagata, head of the board, said, “We’re very sorry.” The cover-up was “unforgivable,” he stressed.

“We can’t help but feel deceived,” the family said through a proxy. They demanded that the facts surrounding the girl’s death be clarified through an impartial investigation.