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Friday, Mar 31, 2023

Shock as school suspends 14 over flag ceremony

Shock as school suspends 14 over flag ceremony

One of 14 secondary students at St Francis Xavier's School says he was shocked when he was suspended for three days after being accused of disrespecting the national anthem and emblem at a flag-raising ceremony last Wednesday
The student, who named himself as Anthony, said he and the 13 others were eating breakfast on the playground and had not realized a flag-raising ceremony was taking place until the vice principal ordered them to stand up.

The school issued a statement on Monday, stating that the 14 students were not present during the ceremony.

Anthony said they were criticized for violating the national security law and disrespecting the national flag after the morning assembly. However, he maintained that he did not violate the law because he had not heard the national anthem playing.

He said it was unjust for the school to impose punishment without evidence or explanation on their misconduct. He expressed worry about the incident being put on record and how it would affect his university applications.

The school said it has communicated with parents and arranged for staff from the counseling and discipline team, alongside social workers, to help ease the students' anxiety. Online classes have also been planned.

A parent provided a clarification notice from the school, which reiterated its stance: "Some students have violated school rules by not returning to their classrooms or assembling on the playground during the morning assembly. The school has decided to punish the students by suspending them."

Online users took to the school's Facebook page to question its method of handling the situation. However, the page has restricted users from commenting.

Education sector legislator Chu Kwok-keung said class suspension was a serious punishment.

"In order to decide on an appropriate penalty, the school must understand the reasons behind the students' behavior. It would be counterproductive otherwise," Chu said.

The Education Bureau has asked the school to submit a report on the incident.

The bureau also said there are clear rules on etiquette when the national anthem is playing during a flag-raising ceremony. Schools should follow up immediately if students have been caught behaving disrespectfully so the matter can be handled in a sensible, reasonable and lawful manner.

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