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Released docs show educators concluded bullying was behind Chiba schoolgirl's fall

A report of the Kashiwa Municipal Board of Education, which mentioned that the then junior high school student, who fell from a school building, had been bullied, is seen in this photo taken in Chiba Prefecture, on Sept, 13, 2018. (Mainichi)

KASHIWA, Chiba -- The Kashiwa Municipal Board of Education in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo concluded in a report that a girl who plummeted from a school building and fell unconscious had been bullied by classmates, documents obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun show.

According to Chiba Prefectural Police, the girl, a second-year student at a city-run junior high school, was found collapsed in a parking lot in March 2015, after walking out of a fourth-floor classroom during a conversation with members of the club to which she belonged. A student apparently saw her falling from the fourth floor.

After education board officials received accounts from her classmates and others related and an independent committee investigated the incident, the board submitted a report and related documents to the mayor in March 2016.

As the report and documents were not released, the Mainichi Shimbun filed an information disclosure request the following month. In response, the municipal government decided not to disclose the report, but the Mainichi then appealed the decision based on the Administrative Complaint Review Act. The municipal review panel voided the city's decision after a two-year investigation, and the municipal government disclosed parts of the report and related documents on Sept. 3 this year.

The report stated that the student had been bullied, though the education board couldn't specify the direct cause of the incident. Moreover, it criticized her homeroom teacher for failing to protect her security while the teacher was aware the student had been bullied after consultation with the student and her parents.

According to the report, the school board underestimated the extent of the bullying and was not aware of how serious it was. The report said that as a result of the school board's failure to handle the case systematically, it had been unable to prevent her fall from the school building.

Other disclosed documents stated that the education board wouldn't hold a news conference and would ask the municipal government to exclude the report and related documents from disclosure because they include personal information. An official of the education board stated, "The students' family asked us not to disclose the documents. We don't think we hid the fact." It added, "We feel very sorry and responsible that she was bullied."

(Japanese original by Toshiaki Hashimoto, Kashiwa Local Bureau)

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