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Hashimoto blasts education board over basketball teacher lapse

Jan. 11, 2013 - 07:00AM JST

OSAKA —

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on Thursday strongly criticized the Osaka Board of Education for its inadequate investigation into reports that the basketball coach of a school had been repeatedly using corporal punishment on team members.

Board of Education officials told a news conference on Tuesday that a 17-year-old high school student committed suicide on Dec 23 after he was physically punished by a teacher who coached the basketball team.

The officials said the incident happened at Sakuranomiya high school on Dec 22. The boy, who had an excellent academic record, was captain of the school basketball team which the 47-year-old teacher had coached since 1994. The teacher is currently on suspension.

Officials said the boy hanged himself with a tie at his home. His mother found a letter to the teacher and a note in which he said he couldn’t cope with being physically punished.

The boy told his mother that he had been slapped by the teacher 30-40 times on the day before he committed suicide, Fuji TV reported.

On Thursday, the education board said it had received complaints from other parents about the teacher and instructed the school to question him in September 2011. The school questioned the teacher for about 15 minutes, but did not speak to any students, Fuji TV reported. The teacher told officials that he sometimes used physical punishment and that the boys’ parents were aware of his disciplinary measures.

Speaking to reporters, Hashimoto said it was unacceptable for the school not to ask the boys what was going on, Fuji reported. He also said that slapping a boy 30-40 times should be considered a crime.

Meanwhile, the school principal said two other junior teachers in their 20s had noticed the basketball coach hitting students but could not protest because both of them had been in his class when they were students at the school. Hashimoto said that when a teacher has been at the same school for so long, he has more power than the principal, and the school loses its ability to function as an educational institution.

Meanwhile, NHK reported that Sakuranomiya high school had also received complaints on at least two occasions from parents about a volleyball teacher for using corporal punishment in 2011.

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