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Elementary school teacher in east Japan sacked for 'bullying' multiple students

Yokohama City Hall (Mainichi/Junya Higuchi)

YOKOHAMA -- The Yokohama Municipal Board of Education on March 25 fired an elementary school teacher for discrimination after he was found to have withheld handouts from certain students and cut the size of their lunches, among other actions.

    The city education board, which had set up a third-party committee to investigate, determined that the 46-year-old teacher's actions constituted "psychological abuse and bullying that diverged fundamentally from guidance."

    According to sources including a third-party report announced by the education board, when the educator was a homeroom teacher for fourth graders in the 2020 school year, he did not distribute handouts that should have been provided to four students and intentionally reduced the amount of their school lunches for several months. He also scolded children outside the classroom and forced other pupils to lock the classroom so students could not enter or leave.

    The teacher reportedly said, "I believed that if I showed how one pupil was scolded, it would have a deterrent effect on other students."

    The third-party committee also pointed out the problems in the school's response. The school became aware of the teacher's problematic behavior in March 2021 following complaints from the students' parents, but did not promptly conduct necessary investigations such as interviewing the children and did not keep sufficient records. The education board deemed that the school's investigation was inadequate and handed the 58-year-old principal a 10% pay cut for three months.

    The students who were targeted by the teacher apparently still feel mentally distressed. At least one student started crying when being questioned about the matter by the third-party committee. At a news conference, Masanori Shiba, general affairs section director of the education board's western school education office, labeled the teacher's action "extremely malicious," and said he was "unqualified to be an educator."

    (Japanese original by Nao Ikeda, Yokohama Bureau)

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