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EXCLUSIVE: British School Manila faces possible closure – DepEd

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Education (DepEd) will close down British School Manila (BSM) if the latter fails to comply with requirements to legally operate as an international school by the end of school year 2018-2019.

DepEd will also withhold for now any endorsement for BSM's tax exemption.

The education department ruled on the administrative complaint filed in 2015 by Trixie Madamba after her son Liam, a BSM high school student, committed suicide after being traumatized by a punishment imposed by his British teacher. The family also has two more pending criminal complaints against the school.

Rappler obtained a copy of DepEd’s decision for Admin Case Number OSEC-2015-01. The document was signed by Secretary Leonor Briones and Undersecretary Alberto Muyot.   

Education Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Service GH Ambat confirmed on Friday, March 30, the release of the decision on the case.

She said BSM can file a motion for reconsideration. 

BSM head Simon Mann told Rappler the school is still drafting its “conclusive opinion” on DepEd’s sanctions. 

“We are aware of this latest development and are putting together our own conclusive opinion on the matter. We are confident that this can be clarified and resolved in due time,” Mann said.

What happened to Liam Madamba? Liam jumped off the 6th floor of the Dela Rosa carpark building in Legazpi Village, Makati City, on February 6, 2015. This was after he was caught by his teacher Natalie Mann plagiarizing in the first draft of an essay. The said essay was a major requirement for BSM students to graduate. 

Liam, a BSM scholar, was reportedly traumatized after Mann made him apologize in a letter addressed to the entire school body. His suicide became the subject of a Senate investigation. (READ: Report: Fallen BSM student saw apology letter as punishment

In her complaint, Trixie said BSM “negligently and miserably” failed to handle Liam’s plagiarism case. 

She argued BSM’s own rules state plagiarism is only considered upon the student’s submission of the final version of the essay, and yet the teacher already disciplined Liam upon his admission of the act over a first draft. 

Trixie said her child was not given due process, as BSM did not launch a proper investigation into the matter. 

The mother also pointed out BSM’s lack of a proper legal authority to operate in the Philippines.  

Sanctions from DepEd: DepEd is imposing two sanctions on BSM following the administrative complaint filed by Trixie.

First, DepEd ruled that BSM is operating illegally as an international school in the Philippines. (READ: After student's death, bill recognizing British school 'in limbo’)

The school was instructed to either secure a legislative franchise from Congress or seek government authority to operate as an international school following the requirements provided under the Rules and Regulations Governing Private Schools in Basic Education of DepEd Department Order Number 88, series of 2010.

If BSM fails to secure a permit by the end of the coming school year, DepEd will shut it down.

“Failure to comply with the requirements for operating an international school or to secure a legislative franchise would result to the closure of the school due to lack of legal authority to operate,” said DepEd.

Second, DepEd is penalizing BSM through the non-issuance of a favorable recommendation for tax exemptions until DepEd “deems it proper to restore such privilege." 

3 cases vs BSM: “The family feels that this is a big step towards attaining justice for Liam's death. This is just one of the 3 cases filed by the family against BSM officials and the institution,” said Joseph Estrada, lawyer of the Madamba family, conveying the family's satisfaction with the DepEd decision.

The Madamba family has also filed an obstruction of justice complaint with the Department of Justice against BSM’s officials and board of trustees. The family also filed a case against the school officials before the Taguig Regional Trial Court. 

Estrada said DepEd’s ruling puts BSM in a “peculiar situation.”

“In the case of BSM, it has to rely on a DepEd recommendation [for tax exemptions to be able to operate as a legal international school in the Philippines]. It is in a peculiar situation because it has not yet established itself as an international school or a local school. It has no authority to operate,” he said in a Viber message to Rappler. 

Read a full copy of DepEd's decision below:

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/375247375/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-woG7tOB1NtHw7kTwojZe&show_recommendations=true " data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="0. 7504159733777038" scrolling="no" id="doc_65184" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0">

 – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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