On March 1, St. Theresa's College High School in the Philippines banned a 16-year-old student from graduation ceremonies on March 30 because of a photo on her Facebook profile. The photo in question, which was taken during a family outing, shows her wearing a bikini while holding a cigarette and a liquor bottle at a birthday party. The girl will graduate but has been told she cannot join her classmates in the ceremonies because she allegedly violated school policies, including immorality, exposure online, as well as smoking and drinking.
Court records showed on Wednesday that the school is being sued for the ban. The student's mother filed a petition last Friday with a regional trial court in Cebu City to allow her daughter to attend the ceremonies at the Catholic school. A judge is expected to rule on the complaint before this Friday's graduation.
Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali told CBS News today that the department will investigate a complaint by the girl's mother to determine whether the penalty was appropriate. The school declined to comment, but its lawyer said the sanction was imposed against the student for posting pictures on the Internet with "ample body exposure" and to "uphold the teachings of the Church."
In the legal complaint, the girl's mother claimed her daughter was not given due process before the sanction was imposed; the manuals handed out by the school every year to all students clearly state that a student as well as his or her parents should be given due time to explain their side of the story. She also said her daughter had "suffered sleepless nights" and was "compelled to bear hate toward the school" since she was told of the punishment.
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