Hanoi school threatens to expel student over dispute with parent

By Thanh Hang   October 6, 2023 | 12:47 am PT
Hanoi school threatens to expel student over dispute with parent
The gates of the lac Long Quan High School in Hanoi's Soc Son District. Photo by NB
A private high school in Hanoi's Soc Son District said it would not allow a student to continue studying due to a dispute with her father over school fees.

Hoang Xuan Toan, 39, the father, said the incident started after the class's parent-teacher meeting in August, when the head of the parent's committee complained about numerous fees of Lac Long Quan High School and announced resignation due to "the school's pressure."

Toan later expressed his opinions in the Zalo group of the class's parents and homeroom teacher, claiming that the school was dishonest and did not respect parents' opinions.

"I didn't think that a school that educates the younger generations could have such ugly behaviors: squashing the right, covering up the wrong and not being transparent about any issue," a text message from Toan read.

Two days later, Toan was invited to the school for a discussion regarding his messages. Toan said he was busy so could not make it. The school then invited him to come for a second time, before sending the homeroom teacher to his house for a chat.

On September 25, he received a notification from the school's principal, saying his messages "affected the school's reputation."

"The school has invited you to come and explain the text messages multiple times, but did not receive your cooperation. The school had also sent a teacher to your house for an exchange and to pass on the invitation, but so far, you have not come," the message read, adding that the school would "refuse to educate" Toan's daughter if he did not visit the school before September 29.

On Tuesday, the homeroom teacher called his family and told him that his daughter "should be off-school "starting tomorrow," Toan said.

As such, Toan has let his daughter stay home, claiming that the girl has been mentally affected by the incident, refusing to communicate with anyone.

"I am very upset about the school's action. If something happens to my daughter or if her school results are affected, I will file a lawsuit," Toan said.

Toan said that due to the nature of his job, he has to travel far and is rarely home. As such, he could not go to the school for a meeting. Moreover, he did not agree with the reason why the school wanted to meet with him in the first place.

"If they want to talk about the issues I said, I will come. But the school wants me to explain my messages. I'm the one with questions about the school's murky ways of collecting fees and operating, so the school has the responsibility to explain those to the parents," he said.

Dinh Quang Dung, principal of Lac Long Quan High School, said the school was always open to cooperate with parents, evident by the fact that the school had sent invitations to Toan.

Dung said Toan's messages were "neither disagreements nor questions," just stating that the school was dishonest. As such, the school wants Toan to explain what he meant by "dishonest."

"We of course want to ensure students' rights, but parents need to be constructive and contributive. When there are problems and the school invites the parents to come, that's transparency," Dung said.

On Toan's daughter being asked to stay home, Dung claimed that so far there has been no decision to suspend the student. The homeroom teacher might have called the family due to the notification issued on September 25.

Tran The Cuong, director of Hanoi's Department of Education and Training, on Thursday said theoretically the school could stop educating a student. But from an educational standpoint, such an act is not allowed, he said, adding that he had requested that the school let the student return.

Dung said Toan's daughter returned to the school on Thursday, and the school would have further discussions with Toan on the matter.

Lac Long Quan high school is a private high school, with around 1,200 students.

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