Seven high school students in the north-central Vietnamese province of Thanh Hoa had already been expelled after school officials caught them talking badly about their teachers in a Facebook group, when the provincial education department stepped in and asked the punishment to be revoked.
Bui Nguyen Tien, principal of Nguyen Trai High School in the provincial capital of Thanh Hoa, confirmed that the school board had disciplined eight tenth-grade students for the incident.
Among them, three students were expelled for one year, while four others were banned from school for a week.
The other student was warned in front of the entire school.
According to the school, D.M.T., a member of class 10A5, was caught using her cellphone in class and had the device confiscated on October 1.
On the afternoon of the same day, Dau Thi Bich, the homeroom teacher of class 10A5, saw a message pop up on T.’s unlocked phone.
Bich later found out the message came from a Facebook group named ‘Dong co Bich,’ (‘Mrs. Bich’s cave’), a group used by multiple students to speak ill of teachers and the school.
Bich reported the incident to the school board the following morning and the students were asked to write their own reports on the case.
Their parents were also made aware of the situation.
The disciplinary board later convened a meeting to determine suitable punishments for the students.
“Such behaviors are unprecedented at the school and seriously violate the school’s regulations,” the meeting minutes reads.
“These students have shown no sign of remorse and even continued breaking the rules,” it adds.
The principal imposed the punishment on the students on October 23, but it took days before the situation hit local headlines.
In a surprising twist, the provincial Department of Education and Training, after being made aware of the case, requested on Thursday that the school board withdraw the decision.
“The students’ violation was not serious enough to deserve expulsion,” Pham Thi Hang, director of the education department, explained.
The department will also look into the fact that the teacher looked at the student’s phone without her consent.