Class ban on student 'appropriate'
Teachers were simply following guidelines in reacting to a mentally disturbed Form Four student before he jumped to his death, the school's headmaster said yesterday, rejecting criticism of his staff.
Lau Chong-yuen, the head of Tung Chung Catholic School, was testifying at an inquest into the death of Wong Ling-fung, 17, who killed himself in May last year at the school.
Wong was banned from classes a few weeks before his death, and Lau said it was an appropriate treatment in reaction to Wong's 'insulting' comments about a teacher. 'We wanted to protect him. I received reports that some students wanted to teach him a lesson,' Lau said.
Wong was given a demerit and confined for several days to a room next to the school's general office after he publicly criticised his Chinese language teacher.
'The demerit was not used to punish him,' Lau said. 'Our objectives were to support him and to give him counselling.' All measures were conducted in accordance with the government guideline on dealing with mentally disturbed students, Lau said.
But solicitor Albert Ho Chun-yan, who represents Wong's family, doubted whether enough efforts were made to minimise the effect of the disciplinary actions.
Wong's mother, Yip Wai-kuen, interrupted the morning court session, shouting that Lau was dishonest. Escorted outside the courtroom by police officers, Yip said the school had discriminated against her son because he had mental issues.
Ho said the school could have strengthened Wong's determination to commit suicide by not showing him enough consideration.
Lau said the school did not punish Wong even though he was disrespectful to teachers. 'But [he] needed to be educated. [He] cannot do whatever he wants,' Lau said.
Ho, however, said the school could have overreacted, without due consideration for Wong's condition.
Wong jumped to his death two weeks after he was kept out of class.
Yip later told the inquest: 'It was too harsh for [the school] to punish him and make this youngster end his life. I am just a housewife, but I need justice.'