A Hong Kong school that employs a teacher suspected of throwing 30 animals from a building has vowed to fairly investigate the matter after authorities decided against prosecuting him even though he handed himself over to police.
Politicians have joined online appeals for the teacher to be suspended from duties at the government-funded Catholic secondary school, which still listed him on its website as of Friday.
The 49-year-old teacher and a 36-year-old merchant turned themselves in days after the discovery of the animals at a private housing estate near Sham Tseng in the New Territories on February 14.
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The animals included chinchillas, rabbits, cats, a guinea pig, rodent and parrot, and were found on a path and hillside next to the building, half of them dead while another three died later.
Both men were arrested for cruelty to animals, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a HK$200,000 (US$25,800) fine. But the Department of Justice this month decided against prosecuting them, citing insufficient evidence.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and other concern groups expressed outrage over the decision, while more than 1,000 signatures were carried in a newspaper advertisement this month urging the department to review the case.
Fifteen district councillors published a joint statement on Monday demanding the teacher take responsibility while urging the school to suspend him.
Yu Chun Keung Memorial College No 2 in Pok Fu Lam – a government-subsidised school under the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong – said it was aware of the public concern over the teacher.
The school had been in close contact with the Education Bureau over the matter in the past few months, it said on its Facebook page,
“The school’s Incorporated Management Committee has attached great attention to the case and pledged to deal with it in a fair and just manner, according to the spirit of the core values of Catholic education,” it said. “We will follow up any teachers’ employment based on the government’s Education Ordinance, Codes of Aid and Employment Ordinance.”
The diocese’s Catholic Education Office said staffing matters were handled solely by the school, although it had received reports about the incident from its principal and supervisor.
“Only the Incorporated Management Committee of the school has been legally empowered to handle the staff case, and we shall review the final report of the school on how the case has been dealt with at the end of the day,” an office spokesman said.
While not commenting on individual cases, a spokeswoman for the bureau said it would typically review the registration of a teacher if he or she was involved in professional misconduct “after the case closed”, no matter whether the person was convicted by the courts.
Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said the school should conduct a thorough investigation while bearing pupils’ interests in mind.
“The school should seek to find out the facts … while treating the stakeholders fairly when handling the case according to the relevant ordinances, codes and regulations,” he said.
“It is important to protect the students. Although this case is not posing direct harm to pupils, a teacher’s behaviour could set an example for students as a role model … The school should also consider what kind of messages it would be sending to students when following up the matter.”
This article Hong Kong school employing teacher suspected of hurling animals off building vows to investigate case first appeared on South China Morning Post