School exec says sorry for language-driven expulsion

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LAOAG CITY—The head of the school that expelled three Grade 8 students for violating its English language policy has apologized to them, their families and those who have been offended by the school’s action.

“With a deep sense of humility, allow me to express my sincerest apologies to everyone who has been caused pain and offense by the recent turn of events at Saviour’s Christian Academy (SCA)… As proper authorities are now looking into this controversy, I will refrain from discussing details of the issue, except to say that the policies we craft and implement in the school are well-intentioned and have the best interests of our students in mind,” said Rev. Brian Shah, SCA president.

“It saddens me immensely that this issue of campus discipline has morphed into a war against ‘linguistic injustice and cultural disrespect,’ where I am pictured as chief enemy,” said Shah, a Singaporean.

He said he came to the Philippines in 1987 and has served as “pastor, friend and family to countless Ilocanos from all walks of life.”

“I could never thus intentionally and willfully do anything that will demean Ilocanos— they who have accepted me as one of their own,” he said.

Shah promised to review the SCA’s policies and student handbook “to seamlessly comply with existing government regulations and to be further sensitive to the cultural sensibilities of our people.”

On Tuesday, the Ilocos Norte provincial board agreed to investigate what transpired on July 31 when SCA officials asked the students, through their parents, to transfer to another school for speaking Ilocano on campus despite a stern warning from Shah.

SCA’s student handbook, however, shows that students “speaking the vernacular inside the campus,” which is categorized as a “miscellaneous misconduct,” should only be reprimanded.

Board Member Vicentito Lazo, chair of the board’s committee on education, said they scheduled the investigation later this month so they could come up with measures to protect students.

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