Director suspends classes for a week
Teachers claim this is in response to their demand for a discussionEducation Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana has ordered an investigation into why the director abruptly ordered classes at the Assumption College to be suspended yesterday.
Relevant authorities are also trying to conclude whether the college will resume normal operations from Monday.
Assumption College director Anant Prichavudhi allegedly ordered that all classes be suspended until next Friday, saying that some ill-intentioned people were preparing to cause havoc on campus and he could not guarantee students' safety.
This move is believed to be in response to a plan by teachers, alumni, students and parents to rally for a discussion with him.
"Instead, he has passed the blame onto to the innocent," Pradit Chaipreecha, a teacher at the secondary section, said. "The school should actually have stayed open and he should have been there to listen to teachers who wish to air their grievances and raise their concerns."
Spokesperson and teacher of the Save the AC (Assumption College) Group, Dr Sitthichai Parinyanusorn, said in reality Anant had already been informed that he would receive a complaint letter.
"He did not reply and then suddenly we found out that he had suspended the classes," he said.
According to Pradit, Anant has been at the helm of the college for about nine years now, and his "mismanagement" has reportedly caused many problems.
"His leadership is apparently flawed. To avoid a discussion with us, he ordered the school be closed," Supawadee Kamfeukfon, a teacher in the primary section, said.
The Assumption College's primary school is located on Soi St Louis, while the secondary section is located on Soi Charoenkrung 40. Anant has been facing a barrage of criticism over many issues, including his recent decision to merge both the sections. And things came to a head yesterday, when he ordered a temporary closure of the entire college.
Early morning chaos
Since students had not been informed in advance, many showed up yesterday morning only to learn that there were no classes. Traffic came to a standstill in the morning rush hour in front of the two school compounds and nearby areas.
Several teachers complained that it was not fair on the students to interrupt classes like this because exams for the second semester were nearing.
"I don't think anybody agrees with the sudden closure of the school," Pongthep said, adding that he had already told the Office of Private Education Commission's acting secretary-general Charnwit Tapsuphan to look into the matter.
The education minister was speaking after Assumption College teachers and students' parents called on him to ensure the school re-opens on Monday.
Charnwit said he was planning to go to the college himself to settle the matter, adding that he had tried to get in touch with Anant yesterday but to no avail.
"My commission has the authority to order that the school resume its classes, but I will speak to the college first before making a decision," he said, adding that he would make a public announcement on the progress of the case today. Charnwit said if the school did not respond to his commission's order, it might face the maximum punishment - the loss of its licence to operate the school.
Established more than a century ago, the Assumption College is one of Thailand's best known boys-only schools. The operation licence is held by the St Gabriel Foundation, which has about 17 educational institutions under its care.
Angry teachers yesterday called on the foundation's chairman Brother Sirichai Fonseka to intervene. They wanted Anant to be removed and his predecessor returned to the helm.
In a related development, teacher Narong Weeraprajak said he and his colleagues were planning to hold make-up classes for their students today and would try and ensure that their pupils could return to school as per normal on Monday.