BUTTERWORTH: M Vasanthapiriya, the girl who hanged herself after being accused of stealing her teacher’s mobile phone, was a timid girl and never got into trouble, one of her former teachers said today.
The former teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 13-year-old did not have any major disciplinary problems in school.
“You can check the school records. She did not have disciplinary problems,” the former teacher said when met at Vasanthapiriya’s wake at her family home in Kampung Tong Hai in Nibong Tebal, near here, today.
Vasanthapiriya, who studied at SMK Methodist here, died at 3.30am today at the Intensive Care Unit of the Seberang Jaya Hospital, without regaining consciousness. She had been hospitalised since her suicide attempt two weeks ago.
The former teacher also said that Vasanthapiriya was quiet in school and had her own circle of friends.
“She is the timid kind, so when she was questioned for hours by the teachers, locked up and later taken home to talk to her parents, she must have felt humiliated,” he said, adding that this could have led her to take her own life.
Based on a police report lodged by a relative at the Prai police station, Vasanthapiriya was called in for questioning by three teachers at 2pm on Jan 17.
One of them, a woman in her 40s, accused her of stealing her iPhone 6, the report said. After the teen denied stealing the handphone, another teacher allegedly hit her on the back in full view of other students.
She was then allegedly confined to a room in the school for nearly five hours, without any food or toilet break.
At 6.45pm, the husband of the teacher who lost her handphone arrived at the school. The couple threatened to take her to the police if she did not admit to the alleged theft, the report said.
They then drove Vasanthapiriya to her house nearby to meet her parents. The teen ran up to her room, while her parents and the accuser left the house “to sort things out”.
It was then that Vasanthapiriya attempted to take her life. Upon returning home at 8.20pm, her father broke into her room after repeated calls went unanswered.
She was found unconscious but alive, hanging from her “dupatta” (shawl) which was tied to an air-conditioning pipe, with her legs in contact with the floor. Her shocked parents also discovered a suicide note written on a torn page of her school exercise book.
SOP not followed
The former teacher also weighed in on the issue of the teachers not following the standard operating procedure (SOP).
He said that even when a student was sick, there was an SOP to be followed, in which the school had to call the parents and ask them to come to school to take the student home.
When asked on the SOP that should have been followed in this case, the former teacher said the matter should have been brought to the afternoon supervisor and the discipline teacher. If the teacher involved was the discipline teacher, she should have excused herself from being involved.
He said in Vasanthapiriya’s case, the teacher’s husband should have been the voice of reason, advised his wife to take a step back and tell her that what she was doing was wrong.
He said they should have addressed the issue the following day but instead, he brought the wife to the girl’s house that same day and made things worse.
He also commented on the issue raised by Vasanthapiriya’s father, about his daughter not being allowed to eat when they were handling the case.
“This is something which should not have happened as it was a student’s right to eat during recess. So, when they interrogated her, and since she had not eaten, it made things worse for her as her body was weak.
“Then they took her to the house. They cannot do that. By right, they should investigate in school and finish it there,” he said.
Vasanthapriya’s former teacher also said that it is only the afternoon supervisor or principal’s duty to call the parents and ask them to come to the school.
“You can then ask the parents anything you want. If the parents allow you to go to the house, then you can go with the parents. With the supervisor present.
“This is the SOP they did not follow,” he explained.
The former teacher said the husband should not have gotten involved, as he was not a teacher in the secondary school, but was teaching at a primary school.
“Actually his mistake was to take his wife to the girl’s house. Whether or not he talked to the parents is a different matter.
“He should not have done that (brought the wife to the house) as the alleged incident had happened in school,” he said, adding that he was not sure if any action would be taken against the husband.