Boys Don’t Cry (They Sue)

It’s time to lawyer up, St. Mary’s! And the Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo. (Parents, if you see tuition go up next year–you’ll know why now).

If you haven’t seen the 2016 Best Motion Picture Academy Award Winner Spotlight, you should. (Now on Netflix!)

It is a story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive, systemic cover-up, by the local Catholic Archdiocese, of children being molested by priests. This initial case was how the world woke up to the inhuman system of an ‘untouchable institution’ that cannibalized children’s souls because people were too afraid to challenge it. It was the work of Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian that subpoaened the Archdiocese’s records showing that it knew one priest was harming over 130 children, and kept re-assigning him to new parishes to cover up the stories. (Sound familiar, St. Mary’s? Sending confessed rapist Brother Lawrence Lambert to a Japanese school in Shizuoka—all under the watch of the Archdiocese of Tokyo!). The case was a watershed moment that exposed the same rampant system of cover-up in dioceses across the US and the world. Thousands of victims have filed civil lawsuits based on the precedent of Mr. Garabedian’s initial class-action suit of 86 plaintiffs. He has been doing these cases for over 20 years in many countries around the world.

Mr. Garabedian is the legal counsel the alumni of St. Mary’s will be engaging. The jig may be up for the evil still doing business in Tokyo.

In mid-2015, the Tokyo community of international school families witnessed the intrepid journey of the 13 women survivors of sexual abuse at ASIJ holding their international school accountable, through petitioning with 1800 signatures, hiring their own lawyers and forcing an acknowledgment and apology from the notoriously absconding ASIJ Board.

In the June 15th, 2015 Final Report issued by the legal team of Crew Janci LLP (Portland, Oregon) representing the 13 survivors, an acknowledgment by ASIJ’s Board of Directors of crucial points that had been denied for 40 years was published. It also summed up the final result of the case:

…on June 5, 2015, the school’s newly appointed Board of Directors released a public apology, stating that “Jack Moyer’s abuse of students was extensive, and there were Heads of School, high-level administrators as well as teachers who were aware of information concerning abuse by Moyer.” The Board’s apology was issued as part of a unique resolution and reconciliation achieved by the victims and the American School in Japan, which included reimbursement for counseling costs, compensation for the survivors’ injuries, new and improved child safety policies, and full acceptance of responsibility for the actions of “teachers and administrators…[who] failed to protect students in their charge.”

A summary of the report can be read here.

St. Mary’s admin, in comparison, have lied about ever reporting the criminal and crime to the police, or seriously investigating anything. (For those of you new to the stories–the ASIJ scandal and the St. Mary’s scandal broke to the wider community at about the same time–early 2014). So, now, what about the boys of St. Mary’s?

Fathers, friends, leaders of society, and broken men living today were once students at St. Mary’s who were raped and molested by the Brothers and Staff. Months, and now years, have passed since the story broke and it is evident that the school and the archdiocese have taken ZERO measures to account for children harmed in their care and jurisdiction. The admin hope that in silence, it will be business as usual.

In St. Mary’s case(s), one of the worst perpetrators is still alive (a confessed rapist of children), and was even living on campus when the story broke—30 years after his first(?) early(?) raping days. Can the school corporation honestly say that they knew NOTHING all these years? Is that even possible when two brothers were present at the rape? When dozens of more boys’ lives were scarred in a system of depraved ‘summer camps’ and ‘office visits’, again, with multiple staff in attendance?

The only way to determine the extent of systemic abuse is to stitch together the massive array of narratives from the survivors of abuse at St. Mary’s International School. Many of the survivors are still alive.

The men will sue.

Here are some details about joining the class action lawsuit as we at the blog know it:

  • it will be at NO legal cost to the individuals (i.e. $0); Mr. Garabedian only takes a percentage at the end IF there is a financial settlement
  • anonymity throughout the whole case is the individual’s choice and will be honoured
  • survivors can live anywhere in the world
  • Teja Arboleda, a St. Mary’s Alumnus and survivor, has volunteered to be the lead and public plaintiff

Survivors looking for closure, with a band of brothers can contact Mr. Garabedian: http://www.garabedianlaw.com/contact-us

and / or

contact Teja Arboleda (Class of 1989): tejaarboleda@gmail.com

That’s right: to all those who wish to sweep this under the rug and carry on as usual: this cottage industry of boys in Tokyo being sexually abused by a cloaked institution is going to go out of business.

May you not sleep until it is over.

FYI: Pope Francis has set up a tribunal to clean house of all the Bishops into covering up evil against children.

 

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Rape Culture and St. Mary’s

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Original picture shows Stanford graduate joining her Class of 2016 in calling out the Rape Culture perpetuated by her Alma Mater (Re: Brock Turner case). See these young people’s stunning moral stance here. Do we or our boys have the moral fiber to do the same?

If we weren’t sure before, we are now: the admin at St. Mary’s never did call the police about the rape of one of its boys by a former  Elementary School Principal. It was only a lie the admin told of action and accountability for one of the worst crimes imaginable on school campus, and against a child. Associated Press Reporter Yuri Kageyama straight-up asked the police if they had ever even heard of this case:

School officials say they reported the chapel rape allegations to Tokyo police when the victim approached them in 2013. Yet Tokyo police spokesman Satoru Matsunaga said there were no records of the case in their files and no investigation is ongoing.

So, it is confirmed: that lie, that letter from the headmaster, and the convening of that ridiculous and useless “independent panel” of self-help gurus and lawyers etc. had only been done in a fit of PR face-saving—not in any protection of children in the school’s care. The fact is, the rapist is now enjoying a quiet retirement in Quebec, Canada, with impunity for having raped a boy at St. Mary’s International School.

If that is not enough for us to choke on, we should be worried, very worried, that this school where hundreds of our boys are educated, perpetuates Rape Culture.

I bring this up because the zeitgeist of our youth, social and media culture is undeniably in the throes of defining this term “Rape Culture”—something that us older people have lived through and have taken for granted as something incidental that happens to unlucky individuals. But now, we are slowly starting to understand that when rape and sexual assault have been perpetrated as much as they have (as in all the cases at St. Mary’s, which we’ve lost count of) and not a single perpetrator has met any form of punishment, it must mean that there is a system and culture in place that allow safe and easy passage for rapists, and that enable rape. This is Rape Culture.

 The Impunity of Powerful Men

The Class of 2016 who graduated St. Mary’s just a few weeks ago once had the confessed rapist, Brother Lawrence, as their Elementary Principal. So, this is their story as much as it is that of their alumnus who was raped in the 60s, by Lawrence. Thanks to the internet’s long memory, they will know that for years they were exposed to this same rapist. They will know that nothing at all was done to hold this predator accountable for the sexual assault of one (?) of their brothers.

What would turning in Brother Lawrence had done to Saburo Kagei, or Thomas Tremblay, or Michel Jutras? To the normal, moral mind, you’d think it would have just shown these men in charge to actually have moral integrity and honesty. Not to mention, it is a no-brainer to turn in known criminals to the authorities in a lawful society. But what did they choose to do instead? The men in power at St. Mary’s chose to protect the impunity of one of their own, by allowing him to have ZERO consequence, and then they pretended to have done the integral thing. This is the crucial point. There must be a slippery slope that results when these men in power start turning each other in—so they did everything they could in order not to set it in motion. It means that the men in power now, still have something to hide and something to lose. We have lost count of the St. Mary’s sexual assaults reported in newspapers since the story of Brother Lawrence broke. Are some of the assailants still on the payroll? We may never know—we have seen that they form a system that keeps crimes and misdeeds amongst themselves, silent. It’s a Mexican standoff, and our sons are in the middle.

*Long-time skeptics of St. Mary’s “integrity” knew of their lying about having gone to the authorities. There were clues in the careful letter the headmaster wrote in January 2014 to parents:

“After the school administration learned of the situation, we notified the local Japanese authority and the Archdiocese of the Catholic Church in Tokyo. Both agencies are conducting investigations with the schools’ full cooperation. While the investigation is ongoing, Br. Lawrence Lambert is prohibited from having any contact with students, staff or parents at SMIS.”

Notes: What does “notified” mean? Did they whisper it on the wind in the direction of the koban?  Why would an Archidiocese be allowed to have any kind of interference or parallel investigation in an official criminal investigation? 

Our sons will long be in positions of subordination before they become men in power. From their alma mater, they will have learned that men in power don’t suffer consequences; men in power don’t tell on each other when they abuse the powerless—this is the Top Secret. Our sons will long endure abuse at work, or in relationships thinking this is the norm. When they become men in power, they too will destructively believe the same of themselves. Until someone does tell. This is Rape Culture.

Privilege Over Humanity

In the end, all St. Mary’s actions amounted to was protecting its reputation of being a safe school for kids; it had effectively done NOTHING to hold a rapist on its campus criminally accountable, which was the only right thing to do. This (unearned) reputation is, of course, important to maintain for alumni donations, maintaining current enrolment and future enrolment. For the community of parents and alumni—they/we also become complicit in this cover-up when we are more concerned about upholding an abstract reputation of an abstract institution than demanding accountability when this system reveals itself to be the enablers and protectors of predators. Are we choosing Love, or Fear (really, the only two choices we ever have to make in life)? Do we fear that our sons are not capable of being good, successful people without the backing of the name of a school, on a piece of paper? Do we fear that we are not good people if our sons are not successful? Can we just overlook a couple of rapes of sons that are not technically ours? Such a high price to pay for choosing fear: our humanity. This is Rape Culture.

Other instances of protecting privilege (the school’s reputation and finances) over humanity (doing the right thing):

  1. Sending the known rapist to an unsuspecting Japanese school community of children, so the headmaster could say “with a clear conscience” that Brother Lawrence was off St. Mary’s campus
  2. Having no restitution in place for survivors all the while actively inviting them to come forward to tell their stories to some strangers convened on a panel of lawyers. This exploited survivors further under the banner of “doing something”, when it was, really, reputation damage control
  3. Telling parents during enrolment drives that the brand of the high school matters–helps keep them silent about problems at the school; telling parents that there is an affiliation with ivy league schools, when in fact, there is not (the information below shows an example of an ivy league university replying that it did not have any affiliation with SMIS nor any high school. Students achieve acceptance on their own merit):

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  • Exploiting the culture of emotional silence of boys / men to protect reputation & rapists
  • Exploiting the culture of emotional silence of Japan to protect reputation & rapists

This is Rape Culture.

Survivor, SMIS Alumnus, and Producer Teja Arboleda is documenting this element of St. Mary’s International School’s reality in his documentary on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Ring Around the Collar. Here’s the trailer:

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A son to be proud of–take note, parents!

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They hired a messaging plane. “Protect survivors, not rapists”. Moral minds, moral hearts. These graduates used this special day of theirs to shine. Btw, “Persky Must Go” refers to the lame judge who allowed the rapist of a woman behind a dumpster, the lightest of sentences, fearing a longer one may have “severe impact” on the rapist.

 

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UPDATE: Long Career for Child Rapists at ASIJ & St. Mary’s International School

[Update May 4, 2015: If you haven’t been reading Sylvia MacEachern’s encyclopedic blog exposing the Canadian Catholic church’s piss-poor protection of children from sexual abuse, there is much more there that SMIS victims are sharing.  The latest is an email from Brother Raymond Ducharme who is trying to get a victim to cut some slack for his rapist Brother Lawrence who had to take a tough vow of chastity, for chrissakes! (deep sarcasm)  It shows how self-referential, insular and possibly sociopathic the people who run St. Mary’s are. Ducharme does not think like a parent protecting a child, nor does he empathize with a vulnerable child being grossly violated by a trusted figure, nor can he express disgust like a regular person at the situation–let alone call the police.  

When thinking of that moment of rape, Ducharme shows he can only imagine how difficult it probably was for Brother Lawrence to keep his nasty dick in his pants, what with his lot having to forgo women, Japanese porn, “deal with the internet” etc!  Now, we can clearly see that St. Mary’s International School has been hiding behind the hetero-normative facade and rationale of an “all boys school”.  Problem solved: no temptation there.  None at all.  The boys of St. Mary’s have been the perfect cover for this den of vipers.  The best line was: “I think that there is a potential abuser in every person. Some people deal well with that problem, others don’t”.  (How about NOT allowing the ones that clearly don’t be Elementary Principal of a school full of children, you know, just in case!)  Just who is Ducharme referring to when talking about potential abusers?  Himself?  Other Brothers??  How many?  How common a trait “potential abuser” must be in Ducharme’s experience at SMIS to refer to it like eye-color: some have blue eyes, others don’t.  This asshole indulges his philosophy of merely errant men, instead of realizing the SERIOUS business of the school as legal protectors and educators, Locus Parentis, of children–and charging tons of money for it.  For $%^&* sake!!]

It’s been an interesting week reading the newspaper.  We found that our blog post from last week was duly corroborated point-by-point in the official media!

(Today) April 29, 2015 – The Japan Times officially releases an article detailing information surrounding the circumstances of rape that happened to the former St. Mary’s International School student 50 years ago.   Those calculating, psychopathic Brothers have known all along and have just sought to play out the erasure of community and corporate memory to bring back their rapist to several campuses and act like nothing wrong has happened. (Click on the article by Simon Scott, to read):

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  • Brother Lawrence’s contemporaries, including Headmasters who served into recent times, knew of the case 50 years ago, and knew of Brother Lawrence’s serious expulsion, yet they obviously brought him back to Japan just a couple of years later and even eventually installed him as Elementary Principal, leader of children (when the memory of the community was erased)
  • The Australian Embassy knew at the time
  • A doctor in Tokyo knew at the time
  • The “punishment” of (i.e. excuse to rape) the child was, in all probability, a planned routine of the Brothers to be done to the children in their charge!
  • 50 years ago Brother Lawrence threatened to rape the victim’s younger brother if he told anybody; today the school threatens a lawsuit if the victim tells anybody
  • Turns out, St. Mary’s has hired professional crisis managers, not “independent investigators”.  When asked to comment, these folks suddenly have nothing to say about this serious matter regarding children that their gilded brains and moral hearts have previously, “independently” championed (can there BE any worse examples of independent investigators?? what asshats!!)
  • Brother Lawrence lived and worked among Japanese children, who may have been preyed upon as well

April 24, 2015 – The Japan Times releases an article about the 13 women who have taken a stand against ASIJ admin.  The school has not released a report about decades of sexual abuse, presumably due to the overwhelming, damning evidence of their piss-poor standard of protecting children and even their passive complicity with the criminal, for the sake of upholding the school’s reputation.  (Click on the article by Tomohiro Osaki, to read:)

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  • ASIJ admin have known since 1968 about these sexual abuse cases by a member of their staff
  • at least 48 cases have been reported, yet nothing was ever done
  • an untold number of Japanese students may have been victimized as well during Jack Moyer’s 1987-2003 island camps (=15 years of seclusion with children, away from parents and authority–like that ever made a difference)

You already know our major side-eye to the idea of even holding our breaths for these “independent investigation” reports to come out.

These twin articles brought to mind an issue that we have NOT dealt with well enough during the reporting of this:

The untold damage to Japanese children that these rapists, and their complicit employers must have inflicted.

Japan has been a hugely generous and gracious host country for these corporations–allowing them to flourish and reap trillions of yen in tuition over the years, literally enriching the lives of admin and teachers.  The idea that these admin; these supposed “stewards” of goodwill enabled the debasement of children, in a country with much less wherewithal and agency than even our vulnerable children, to speak up against this type of abuse, is nauseating.

But this is what St. Mary’s International School and the American School in Japan have done.  Furthermore, these schools are hiding much more.  We need to realize that the ONLY reason we know this much is because of the brave survivors who have come forward!  It is NOT to the credit of these schools to have done anything proactive.  They have been circuitously finding ways to stall, cover their asses, and only speak when absolutely forced to.  With decades-long cultures of enabling we can be sure there are MORE perpetrators and MORE victims. They must each, every one of these admin and teachers who have FAILED to speak up when they knew wrong was happening (including NOW), be held accountable.

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Bullshit Investigations: St. Mary’s and ASIJ admin fail

[Update–thank you for sharing this article far and wide on the web–we are nearing 50,000 visitors!  Talk about this.  Put it on the agenda.  End the institutional enabling of sexual abuse of kids from your alma mater!]

Last blog post, due to Headmaster Kagei’s empty and useless “update” on the investigation into sexual abuses at St. Mary’s International School, we wrote how we suspected this was a whole lot of PR-exercises to buy more time to secure next year’s tuitions and promote memory loss among the school community.  We didn’t even bother wasting memory space on our free blog to save the update letter / clutter.  But, who knew how right we would be: a much more significant letter has surfaced!  The school wants the community to believe in its investigation–that justice and help will come to victims who come forward.  Let’s see just what kind of “contract” they put in front of one victim to sign!

At ASIJ, that school’s admin had been shamed into launching an investigation earlier than St. Mary’s, but failed to hit its own report release date of “Fall 2014” and has no information going forward.  Half a year later, the 13 sexual abuse survivors who have bravely come forward are issuing their own update.

Let’s fill you in.

St. Mary’s: What Happens When Admin Get A Victim Behind Closed Doors

Loss of self-agency, abuse, lies, taking advantage.  I’m not even referring to when Brother Lawrence first sodomized his victim.  I’m referring to what happened when the TOP admin at St. Mary’s got the victim, now a man, in the room.

http://www.theinquiry.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Lambert-First-draft-of-Agreement-Lambert-Ducharme-Tadashi-Chigira-with-blog-attached.pdf

The above letter was procured by the irreplaceable Sylvia.  In it, the school tries to arrange an “agreement” with the victim to waive all his rights to any future civil or criminal action, or any publication in the media regarding the admitted sexual abuse against him by the school’s admin.  Sylvia does a thorough critical analysis of this agreement in this room absent any lawyers.  In her Canadian-ness, she wonders if in Japan, it’s even possible to make another person renounce their right to seek justice?  Well, we asked a judge in Yokohama.  Here is what he had to say:

“The constitution and the penal code take precedent over any agreement to waive the rights of an individual to seek justice or redress in criminal or civil court.  Such an agreement would be dismissed as a defence.”

Sylvia also notes from her contact with the victim, that the lawyer for St. Mary’s (or for anybody) wasn’t in the room.  He must’ve known it was bullshit.

So, this is how the school treated an abused former student who came forward.  Next?

Sylvia also documents these observations:

1. The victim is Jewish;
2. The victim’s father was an Australian diplomat;
3. The child was sodomised by Brother Lawrence Lambert fic in the SMIS chapel;
4. The boy was 11-years-old;
5. The boy was in the chapel eating what was for him a Kosher treat, rollmops – essentially pickled herring;
6. The child was warned that if he told anyone the same thing would be done to his little brother, also a student at the school;
8. The maid  saw the blood on the little boy’s underwear;
9. Brother John Paradis knew. That’s Brother John Paradis/Jean-Emile Paradis / Brother Paul Paradis headmaster at SMIS.

The first point is important to me, because at my most cynical, I can imagine that this evil man, Brother Lawrence, used ANY excuse to assuage his psychopathy.  He must have believed that if he raped a Jewish or non-Christian boy on this day (who knows who else he damaged on other days), Jesus would forgive him for at least causing damage to a non-believer.

Jewish and non-Christian parents, for that matter, all parents, don’t wait for any rapist-logic to single out your child!

Shall we additionally nitpick that in that “agreement” the school itself said it would block Brother Lawrence from any elementary, middle or high school child, but then promptly transferred him to the school corporation’s Shizuoka campus? What was the logic” there?  That Japanese children don’t matter?

They did it once, they can do it again.

ASIJ Admin: Trying to Keep the Door Closed

13 women, who survived sexual abuse as little girls, at the hands of former ASIJ staff Jack Moyers, over decades, have come forward in the past year to fully participate in the investigation that the ASIJ admin had been publicly petitioned into launching last year.  For those of us who may not grasp what it means to talk to the lawyers of the institution who belittled your cries for help, for the sake of progress:

“We participated in the Ropes & Gray interviews, revealed and relived our abuse before complete strangers, and shared our personal and painful stories. We did this because we, too, want the report to be as thorough and complete as possible.”

ASIJsurvivors.org

The survivors have always maintained that the ASIJ admin, over the (once again) decades, knew of this abuse and still chose to look away.  One can only assume this was in order to keep the reputation of the school and the abusive teacher, in tact.  The survivors hired their own counsel, O’Donnell Clark & Crew (of Portland Oregon), who were finally able to prove to Ropes & Gray and the school, with concrete evidence, these facts (among many more):

  • ASIJ learned of Moyer’s inappropriate behavior with young female students by at least 1968 and yet denied any knowledge of such for decades, extending as recently as its March 17, 2014 community announcement.
  • In the years that followed, ASIJ leaders – including but not limited to former Headmasters William Ricketson, Ray Downs, Peter Cooper, and Tim Carr, as well as former Principals Jack Collins, James Juergensen, and Robert Winer – received more than four dozen reports of Moyer’s ongoing sexual misconduct and abuse of ASIJ students.
  • Moyer confessed in writing to sexually abusing ASIJ students and specifically identified seven of us by name among the ranks of his victims.
  • ASIJ leaders concealed Moyer’s sexual abuse for more than forty years, and even after repeated warnings, did not take steps to remove Moyer or safeguard ASIJ students.

These are RECENT names, folks!  At St. Mary’s, Brother Lawrence was preying on the student body until 2013; ASIJ had sexual abuse enablers right up until last year!!

In light of this damning evidence, it’s no mystery why ASIJ has quietly missed its report deadline.  It’s pretty clear what they would have to write.  That’s no excuse, of course!  After all, what did they think was the point of an investigation?  To find the truth.  But, the ASIJ admin, like the St. Mary’s admin, can’t handle the truth.  In fact, they are doing their best to back out of this long and narrow dead end: the ASIJ’s admin have  responded that the survivors’ demands for “transparency” and “compensation” are causing (too) “significant…demands” on the school, thus being the ‘real’ cause of delay of the report.  Really.  You know what causes “significant demands” on a person?  Being raped.  Being sexually abused.  As a child.  And then remembering that shit.  Asking for transparency and compensation–it’s pretty standard!  What did they expect?

However, the survivors aren’t accepting the school’s rolling over and playing dead.

The survivors at ASIJ are demanding a report date of no later than July 1, 2015.  Once again, the alumna at ASIJ are setting an incredible precedent in organizing and setting a road map for the boys at St. Mary’s.  Visit their website, launched recently.  And sign their newest, almost 1,500 signature petition (incredible community organizing!!)  blog continues at the bottom:

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Not one of the admin from either of these schools will get to continue their careers with a clean conscience until they learn to solve real problems.  All this idyllic imagery of the schools at their sports, intramurals, choirs, and fundraisers–you know what?  That could have been real, if the people in charge, at the time of the crimes, took out the trash and saved the souls of the students and of the school.  The admin now want current parents and students to believe that those were past issues, mistakes made by past admin!  But how different are they really, in soul and mettle, if they too refuse to solve difficult problems?  Until they prove they are different, these admin a-holes are showing that they would do exactly the same: sacrifice students to monsters for the sake of the school.  St. Mary’s and ASIJ, as we now know, have never deserved nor ever had spotless reputations–so why be delusional about carrying on as usual?

Btw, St. Mary’s “Top 10 reasons to go to St. Mary’s“?  They don’t include protection from sexual predators.

The dangers of wilful blindness:

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How to Ensure a Culture of Silence: Finance 101

When George Washington was offered a 3rd term as the first-ever President of the United States of America, he refused it citing that an indefinite power-grab would set a terrible precedent for a country that aimed to be democratic and open to progress.  And so the cap was set at 2 terms.

Unfortunately, this sunset clause fails to make it into the charter of most institutions, which instead aim to capitalize on expanding and entrenched power, forever and ever.  After all, it saves on start-up costs by already existing.  To win both ways, institutional PR will try to tell you two opposing things:

  1. That they are “stable” because of their size, age and “tried and true” policies
  2. But that they also have the resources and wisdom to be responsive to a changing world

It’s “win-win”!!  However, by definition, an institution defies change and progress: no “anomalous” person or event can ever change its course; it will not mutate; it will not adapt.

To keep up the public face of  “balancing stability and responsiveness”, the institution, say, an international school in a poorly regulated, isolated educational context, would make sure to have it “both ways”.  For instance, they would put teachers on one-year renewable contracts with no contribution to the Japanese pension plan–in order to fire any teacher at their discretion, but, also renew other teachers over and over at their discretion–for the overall semblance of rewarding good work with job security.  However, because there is no real job market to speak of when people are on specific working visas, there cannot be a real meritocracy.  Teachers are therefore totally financially dependent on the school.

As a private institution, you’re thinking, maybe a school admin can do what they want!  Sure.  But, sometimes standard labor laws don’t allow them to have it both ways–as Ms. Tran looked into.  If they did have free-rein both ways, it would wreak havoc on individual lives financially, whose cost society sometimes has to pick up.  A lesser known example: St. Mary’s didn’t pay unemployment insurance at the time it willfully made Ms. Tran unemployed in Tokyo–she had to demand it. Hence, laws.

So, what about the manoeuvres of an institution in a totally different case like this one dealing with child rape at St. Mary’s International School?

No change.  There is no real will or motivation for the administration to own or admit the fact that they had a child rapist among them–by this I mean hold this to the criminal standard that society has already dictated in law.  Doing so would invite financial ruin.  Instead, we’ve seen them shuffle their rapist to an unknowing Japanese community of children, then back to Canada, in another jurisdiction where everyone could then conveniently wash their hands of the whole thing.  That is exactly what an institution would do and what this one did.  Of course.  So, when we see this recent update from Kagei, we have to see it for the banal, “keep the course” drivel that it is.  This response would seem appropriate if it were from some pro-active neighboring school in Setagaya, wanting to assure parents that their institution has got NOTHING to do with this horrendous mess at St. Mary’s down the street.  But it’s actually from St. Mary’s International School: the “tried and true” institution, that by its very nature and policies, actively harbored and smuggled a rapist of our children, and countless others who sexually abused them, and now wants us to believe that it is earnestly searching for the one right thing to do to make it all better!  Please.

Parents, alumni, is our institutional nostalgia so impoverished that we can’t be generous enough to support the most vulnerable among us?  We are not an institution–we do have the flexibility to progress.  Let’s not be blind or naive to an institution’s bias to quietly keep course at all costs.  A progressive response from them is patently impossible.  Especially with this administration…

*    *    *

Recently, a former SMIS dad, who is now an investment banker in Antwerp, reminded us of this little thread of thought that made us think even more deeply about how institutions and their long-time staff become an “entrenched”, obstinate bunch:

In the Japanese Real Estate and Stock Bubble of the 1980s, banks were just lending, lending, lending at low interest rates, with easy credit checks, pushing up the land prices so high, that at one point, all of Japan was worth 4 times the land value of all of mainland USA, even though it was barely the size of California.

We wonder what St. Mary’s did with all that available credit?  As a large non-profit with an educational mandate, did it borrow to give the students a world class education?  Not that we remember: everything was pretty stuck in the 50s and 60s, same rotting textbooks, nasty carpeting and no air-con, until the new campus in the late-2000s, parents had to pay for every extra thing or raise money through events.  So, did the school just pass up that major era of easy credit?

Maybe not:

It would have been really easy for a non-profit to get in on the real estate craze.  It could have borrowed using its credit and then lent money to its staff to buy houses (i.e. foreigners and their wives with no bank credit).  It could even have made a profit by charging higher interest to its staff than what it paid to the bank.  Since the repayments and interest to the school would be deducted via salary expenses, all this would have been invisible to an auditor.  Unless this non-profit had a bank charter, it would have been illegal to lend money in these amounts, never mind make interest profit that is undeclared, hidden and expensed under the guise of, say, operating a school…

The title of the houses would have been in the non-profit’s name until the foreign staff paid enough of the equity down.  The foreign staff wouldn’t know any better anyway, as they would likely have gotten some altered, in-house, translated version of the mortgage contract.  In this arrangement, a co-dependency of longevity ensures that staff are now entrenched in the institution.  Child abuse?  DUI?  Poor skills?  Uncertified?  Lazy?  Can’t understand whenever they speak?  Doesn’t matter if this staff still owes the institution money, payable with their salary in a #humancentipede.

So, in this interweb of financial obligations, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to see the same hardened crust of staff and admin decade in, decade out, all shilling for an institution as if they were indebted to it.

Oh, wait.

Apparently, this may not be hypothetical at all, and a list of mortgagees exists!  If our network of financially savvy former parents can find the time to dig into this, we’d totally be interested!

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St. Mary’s Brothers & Teachers Confess to Rape and Abuse

Update, November 20, 2014: The inimitable Sylvia deconstructs a recent Kagei letter to parents, blow-by-blow, in an awesome exercise of critical thinking.  My favourite is how Kagei declares that the raped alumni are “no longer members of the St. Mary’s community” (??), yet, asks parents at the end of the letter to “pray” for them.  That’s right, parents: abused victims of Catholic institutions are to be thrown out of the community and pitied.  Carry on.  Eueeeech.  Kagei lumped the expelled victims with their abusers, who are somehow also not part of the SMIS community.  No doubt Kagei hoped to divert from the awareness that perhaps there are CURRENT victims at the school, and EXISTING abusers.  Not to mention that Br. Lawrence lives with the Brothers in Quebec, who own the school, which makes this a lie. 

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The best part of Sylvia’s analysis is highlighting that when the St. Mary’s rapist himself writes a letter to say that he did rape a child, Kagei lied to have called it an “allegation” over and over in every letter sent out to parents.  Does the fancy swirly whirl of the Br. Lawrence signature not mean anything to Kagei?

Sylvia points out that SMIS has hired a risk management company as part of an investigative panel for the sexual abuse cases.  WTF indeed.  They’re even named 360, as in degrees?  I guess we gotta prepare to see Kagei do a couple of 180s.  First, from total silence for 8 months to “we care so much” (upon news story exposure).  Next, from “we care so much” to…”damn these pesky alumni trying seek acknowledgement of their childhood rape whilst in the care of our institution, how dare they??”  It’s already precipitating in the letter.

Are the panelists here to make lemonade out of lemons?  It’ll be kinda hard to put a positive spin on child-rape and cover-up.  Who chose this panel?  Who’s paying them?  Who cares?  It’s the the A-team of PR consultants, y’all!  What are they being paid?  If not enough, why would they lend any more than a disinterest glance at any victim, coming forward?  Even Kagei has to speak for them–prob. to save some yen.  Are these rare compassionate human-beings pitching in to help simply out of the goodness of their hearts?  Not likely.  What resources do they have to handle sensitive, deep, troubling and time-consuming cases?  That’s important to know.  For comparison purposes, this is how the investigative team for ASIJ victims (the survivors’ own lawyers: O’Donnell Clark & Crew) championed the issue in a press-release, issued directly by them.  These legal professionals, without the need to make a grand entrance, cared enough about the issue, to say a few words to the beleaguered community, themselves.  However, the school’s set of lawyers, Ropes & Gray, who are doing a parallel investigation, are a totally different story [Update April 18, 2015: not only have the school and Ropes&Gray failed to process a report by their own due date of Fall 2014, they have issued no updates except one that seems to shift blame on the victims for the delay–because the victims demanded too many things like “transparency”.  See what O’Donnell Clark & Crew were able to prove with concrete evidence to Ropes & Gray.]

Without the knowledge of the degreed panel’s level of care, here’s what the Kagei game-plan looks like:

“Children were raped at our school, you ask?  By our teachers?  Why look at these here Harvard degrees from our illustrious panel!” Kagei says as he wand-waves over the parents, who are desperately trying to hold together a decent school year for their kids.  

Kagei, your school makes it hard for parents.  Why do they even have to deal with the spectre of your staff’s criminality?  And foot the bill so you can PR-spin your child-rape cases? USD $25,000+ a year per child in tuition?  It was certainly a great business model, while it lasted.  Will it survive the internet’s long memory?  How about film?  One alumnus who came forward is a documentarian.

Also, just to keep it in perspective folks, here are 15 notable criminals from Harvard University.  16 if you count President Larry Summers, king of conflict of interest, architect of massive deregulation that put many St. Mary’s dads out of investment banking work in the global financial crisis of ’08, and helped wipe out $5 trillion in global savings and pensions.  More than anything here, that man was most responsible for the enrolment drop at St. Mary’s and the consequent lack of international diversity at the school, bar none.  I’d add him to this list (for the global crisis, I mean.  Obviously.):

Amy Bishop (born 1965)
PhD 1993
mass-murderess
John Donald Cody
Harvard Law School 1972
Aka “Bobby Thompson”; Convicted November 14, 2013 of charges in connection with United States Navy Veterans Association
Marc Stuart Dreier
Juris DoctorHarvard Law School 1975
Securities fraud
Gina Grant (born 1976)
Did not matriculate
voluntary manslaughter. Lied on application about killing mother. Early Admission offered, then rescinded.
Christopher Janus (1911–2009)
College 1936
Bank Fraud
Ted Kaczynski(born 1942)
College 1962
Unabomber terrorist/Murderer
Viktor Kozeny (born 1963)
College 1989
Fugitive financier
Chas Lee (born 1971)
College 1993
Embezzler
Suzanne Pomey(born 1980)
College 2002
Embezzler
Joshua Parker {1690-died after 1732}
Class of 1710 {did not graduate}
Forger; brother-in-law of Nicholas Fessenden Class of 1701
Henry Phillips
Class of 1724
Murderer {Duelist}-died in exile in France 1729
William Pickard(born 1945)
Kennedy School of Government1996
LSD manufacturer
[518]
Eugene Plotkin
College 2000
Convicted of insider trading
[519]
Robert Livingston Schuyler {b.1798}
Class of 1817
Embezzler/Bigamist
Louis Agassiz Shaw II {1906–1987}
Class of 1929
Murderer
Jeffrey Skilling(born 1953)
Business 1979
Conspiracy, making false statements, insider trading, and securities fraud during the Enron case
[520]
Sinedu Tadesse(1974–1995)
College 1996 (did not graduate)
Murderer
Chuck Turner (born 1941)
College 1963
Convicted felon and former Boston City Council Member
Dr John White Webster (1793–1850)
College 1811
Murderer
Richard Whitney (financier) (1888–1974)
Embezzler
Stephen H. Kessler(1930s-?)
Medical 1957
“Mad LSD Slayer” of 1967

[Brother Lawrence’s and the Brotherhood’s letters of confession / apology for rape, below]

Pain of Sexual Abuse 1

Leo Burnett Thailand created this powerful ad for Bangkok-based Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation

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Click to link to story

Well, so much for allegations.

The following are excerpts from the letters of confession, which we just learned that the school actually had in their possession prior to January 31, 2014 when they were still communicating this matter as “an allegation”, to parents:

Letter 1 is from Brother Lawrence to his victim:

“I finally take this opportunity to offer you my sincere apologies for assaulting you in 1965. It should never have happened. At that moment, I chose selfishly my pleasure, putting aside your value as a human being, the values that I wished to live by, the true endeavor of an educator, and the mission of my congregation. I am ashamed of what I did.”

Letter 2 reveals details of the sexual assault:

“The simple truth is that still today I cannot understand the fact I raped you. It was the first time I did that in my life, and I did not do that again. I was on my way to my bedroom upstairs when I saw you and saw nothing wrong with talking with you on the way. But then somehow passion suddenly took over and I did what I should never have done and selfishly and violently hurt your body and hurt your heart for the rest of your life.”

Letter 3 is from the Brothers of Christian Instruction:

“Our Congregation also bears responsibilities concerning the evil that was done to you. A warmer community life, a better awareness of the sexuality of men living in communities, and also a strong willingness to cope frankly with the evil done to you could have helped in preventing such wicked actions, or could have helped you get through that ordeal, but it was not the way the situation was dealt with. I am sorry.”

It is undeniable the full extent of rape that happened at St. Mary’s by a Brother, acknowledged by the perpetrator and the administration.  Why didn’t the school publicize this as such?  Since then, we know Brother Lawrence was sent off campus to a Japanese school in Shizuoka, where apparently the safety of Japanese children don’t matter as much.  Then, he was allowed a quiet exit from the country to retire in Canada.  Is St. Mary’s International School truly being accountable for what went on at their institution?  It is only because the Japan Times, outraged alumni, this blog and others have been persisting that the school has HAD to admit that it knew.  The school admin add that they are only now distressed to learn the extent of things and started reaching out to alumni who’ve been abused.  Of course, they have known all along and were content to sit on it passively for 9 months.

If you are part of the school community and are committed to it–recognize that the “leaders” in place are probably NOT the ones to make real, credible policy about this deeply important matter for the present and future safety and reputation of the students and school.  This is a complex situation, requires a a steady hand to separate the cancer from the vital organs.  Know that it IS possible to support the current students AND hold this administration to account.  YOU and the students are what makes the school great every year–how much greater would the school be with an admin that would act responsibly?  Remember: the perpetrator only retired a year ago.  Current students were among his charge.

And in case you thought it was just the Brothers at St. Mary’s, here’s a second article:

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Click to link to story.

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Japan Times: St. Mary’s International School’s Sexual Abuse Report

[Update #3: Headmaster Kagei has issued another letter dated Oct 4 to parents and staff.  Some of you may have already seen it on FB or the SMIS site. The letter talks about how Kagei has spoken with some victims and was “distressed” to hear the accounts of sexual abuse.  Yes, Mr. Kagei, just hearing of them is horrible–imagine experiencing them and being haunted by them for life. Mr. Kagei will identify a panel and launch yet another investigation. But who will lead these panels: SMIS payrollees who may have been abusers themselves?  Or staff that have interest in silencing the stories that have ruined the only institution on their resumes for the past 30 years?  Btw, what ever happened with the Archbishop’s and the police’s investigations that Kagei spoke of in the January letter?  Why is there no update on those fronts after 9 months?  Why didn’t Mr. Kagei write just now that these accounts will be submitted to police?  Mr. Kagei needs to report on the results from actual authorities who have the power to enact consequences for these crimes.  If there is nothing to report from the police, either one of two things happened: the school has not seriously engaged the police by providing evidence at all or the police were not interested.  In either case, parents cannot be satisfied that some in-house panel and improvised policies will be enough to protect their sons from one of the worst crimes possible, from a school and jurisdiction that obviously have been unable to redress past multiple occurrences of it.  Tuition money has gone toward paying for the retirement comfort of these abusers in Japan and Canada.  Finally, we need to learn of pertinent details to audit the efficacy of future policies: where on campus were these boys abused?  How were these boys separated from their class and led behind closed doors?  Did any of these boys say something at the time–and if so, how did their voices die off in the system?  This blog has long side-eyed the school’s practice of taking things behind closed doors, and of setting up their own panels to get the result they want–it is a classic d#$% move by admin.  This new “solution” isn’t any more transparent or open to public scrutiny than anything we’ve already seen.  But we are glad there has been a response.  Down the path that the community is headed now, there is nowhere to hide the truth.]

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Update #2: Sept. 25, 2014. Looks like the survivors of SMIS abuse are serious.

[Update #1: Headmaster Saburo Kagei has sent out this Sept 11 2014 response to alumni regarding the matter of sexual abuse at the school written about in the January 2014 letter.  A main point of Mr. Kagei’s latest letter is that Br. Lawrence had actually written an apology to the victim who had come forward, thus acknowledging his role in the sexual abuse.  This doesn’t sound like “an allegation”, it sounds like a criminal confession by a St. Mary’s admin who committed the worst possible betrayal of trust against a child. What did the school do to bring this crime to justice?  Some people in our community learned that Br. Lawrence had briefly been transferred to a sister school in Shizuoka, when this was found out, exposing Japanese children to this matter, which their families wouldn’t have known about.  Mr. Kagei has now written that Br. Lawrence has simply moved away.  The school is asking (in earnest) for information on any other St. Mary’s staff predators past and present.  How can we be sure that this information would be treated with any kind of severity?  The school needs to acknowledge that the era of the status quo admin is over.  Their culture is one of hiding and confounding problems until they become epically bad.  To convincingly show the school community that it is dedicated to a new era of accountable management, the entire admin needs to be replaced.]

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(Click on image to link to story)

Well, there it is.  A great piece by Simon Scott of the Japan Times, built upon the accounts of St. Mary’s International School’s sexual abuse survivors both named and anonymous.  Despite the school and the Archdiocese of Tokyo failing to comment on the matter (note: even the admin of ASIJ responded in their case), the story is out and in circulation.  As it should be–for the community to acknowledge and solve going forward.

If the school remains silent, it will be met with the silence of families who will no longer be willing to pay for such unaccountability in a matter so crucial to the education of children.

Much respect to abuse survivor Mr. Arboleda, whose compassion to empower future generations of children to identify and speak of such abuse, has meant for  him to unearth unsettling memories.  This is surely something difficult for anyone to do, and I’d say even more so for a grown man in our society.  Men are expected to internalize all kinds of emotional turmoil.  I suspect it is largely the reason the ASIJ case, led my so many female abuse survivors, was acted upon in a faster, more decisive way.  The Alumni at St. Mary’s probably have had to work through an invisible, but thick, layer of social stigma against men revisiting emotional and psychological pain.  Not to mention the Japanese culture, isolated international school culture and Catholic culture all embedded, all at work, in addition!  All the more reason it has been hugely important for Mr. Scott, Mr. Arboleda and “Mr. Smith” to bring this story forth.

One correction we’d make to Mr. Scott’s reporting, is that while this site was certainly put together during Ms. Tran’s first case against the school over labour matters, it was set up by a community of people who helped translate, attend court hearings, secure legal papers, blog and vet comments.

We have Mr. Michael DiMuzio and Linda Wayne, of the St. Mary’s Admin, actually, to thank for the existence of this blog.

Without such monumental egotism, middle-manager paranoia, abuse of power, denial and obstinacy toward Ms. Tran and in other dealings within the community, we never would have been inspired to carry on like this 🙂

Ms. Tran by the way, flew to Japan this August to testify against Gregory Strong, the friend and arguable revenge foot-soldier of Linda Wayne in the university teaching industry, at the Yokohama District Court.  It was the first time Ms. Tran and Mr. Strong had ever met.  While, like all cases, this will likely go down in a settlement, it’s nice to know that there are all kinds of people willing to stand up to abusers of power.

Abuse of power, denial and obstinacy in one small case, is a sign of much more behind the scenes.  Like seeing a cockroach.  Glad we could be part of the fumigation.

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Instructions on Restitution: An Interview About Solving Sexual Abuse at Our International Schools

“I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” — 1 Timothy 3:14-15 (we like it as a literary reference!)

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 9.08.11 PM In today’s blog, we have an interview with Susan Larson, an ASIJ 1979 alumna instrumental in leading sexual abuse survivors’ snowballing movement against their alma mater.  The school’s systemic denial that at least one of their star teachers harmed children, lasted years, exposing countless children to harm.   Ms. Larson will lay out some tips for communities, like that of St. Mary’s International School, regarding what it takes to organize hundreds of alums to bring an institution to account for better protection of its children past, present and future.  SMIS actually had a parallel case announced by the school itself in January 2014–but it was ASIJ alums that have gone the distance in finding a solution to this complex problem for themselves and hopefully for future ASIJ students.

Moral, psychological or financial restitution are all possibilities down the road for this phenomenal group of alums who have reached critical mass in their 500-signature petition (now at over 700, and extended) lobbying for an investigation, compelling the engagement of several international legal firms to enact investigations on both the school and the survivors’ behalf.  Of note, the abuse victims have engaged the law firm O’Donnell Clark and Crew, LLP, a firm specializing in these types of cases against large institutions of trust like the Catholic Church or Boy Scouts of America.  Read the firm’s PRESS RELEASE on June 11, 2014: Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 9.41.37 PM

Here is an except from the Press Release:

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To SMIS alums who are abuse survivors, you may have yet to decide on a public movement for restitution, but this is for you:

Without further ado, our interview with Ms. Susan Larson:

Us: The alums in your case have gained media attention, critical mass with the petition, legal counsel and are on the verge of an inquiry–how does it feel?  Are you surprised at your own power?
Susan Larson: It feels very productive! This was a challenging process involving many points of view among the ASIJ family. I am feeling more battle-scarred than powerful, but pleased that we’ve made so much progress as a group. It was important for us to cut through all the aspects to find a collective focus, and the ASIJ abuse survivors provided that focus. Despite many opinions about what our process should be, or what the school should do, most of the alumni who have spoken up or added their name were doing it for the survivors – in a mass show of support. A few of the survivors helped us a great deal by letting us know we were helping. Without that encouragement, there were times when it looked like we could have stalled out. They kept us together, and they kept us going.
Us: In the event that old cases cannot turn up concrete evidence proving the victims’ cases, would this exercise still have meaning for the 700+ alums supporting the petition for the inquiry?
SL: I can only speak for myself, but I would say yes. There is meaning in getting so many people on the same page to do this collectively. I’ve been told there is also meaning in that for the survivors, and that our support has made them feel more empowered to take action. Whatever happens from here on out, I believe our collective efforts will help make ASIJ a safer place today and tomorrow.
Us: In Japan, the concept of “saving face” is huge–especially for institutions.  There seems to be almost no way out for parties on the defence (in court case or investigation) except to deny and fight, even though they have a moral responsibility to concede and show humility if they are accountable.  What is your take on this?
SL: Wow, big question. I haven’t looked at this from a cultural perspective. I am concerned about certain aspects, such as the insular nature of the expat community in Tokyo, which may have contributed to a lack of resources in how to report these crimes. As for how ASIJ has handled this over the years, sometimes I think they started down a path of denial very early on and couldn’t backtrack later. And if so, perhaps that was where face-saving became very dangerous indeed. (This is just a theory on my part.)
Us: What one piece of advice would you give to a sister school who may be going through very similar issues?
SL: Expect people to be divided in how to handle it. Don’t walk away from the fight, but try to understand the other person’s perspective. I have learned much by listening to concerns that I could not understand at first. There will also be personal attacks. Ignore them. This is not about any individuals or how they feel about each other on a given day. Your objective is much bigger than that. It’s a difficult discussion, so it’s only natural that people will get upset at times. Just try to stay on the path. You will need many people involved, in many different roles.
Us: You’re just beginning a challenging road ahead as a group of alums supporting each other–is there a message you’d like to say to your group?  To others observing you?
SL: Every single person in the group has made a big difference already, whether they actively campaigned or signed their name to the petition. Everyone has a role to play. Right now, the most important thing is for people to report what they know, saw, or heard to Ropes & Gray, the firm conducting the independent investigation. At times, ASIJ alumni have been telling each other to exercise caution in saying what they know. Now that we have third party investigators, this is not the time for caution. Talk to the attorneys in confidence and let them sort out what is actionable or helpful to their findings.
     *     *     *
Contact information for Ropes & Gray is now on the home page at ASIJ’s website.  Despite being hired by the school, they are meant to be a reputable third party.  The Japan Times had also posted:
Readers who have information related to Jack Moyer’s abuse — or abuse committed by other ASIJ employees — can contact Ropes & Gray by phone on 03-6259-3566 (in Japan) or 617-235-4397 (U.S.), or by email viaASIJReportline@ropesgray.com.

As mentioned above, abuse survivors from Portland, Oregon have themselves enlisted the help of separate attorneys for independent investigation of sexual abuse. If you are a victim in the ASIJ case, the telling of your case is free.  Tell both law firms!  Anonymity is respected, but you’ll still have to identify your year and enough information to know that you were indeed a student.  The investigators will decide on which accounts and details to use, so you don’t have to worry about what they need to hear or don’t–just know your case is welcome to be heard as is.

Here are the latest developments in the media about how the ASIJ case has been brought to the investigative stage:

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 9.29.13 PM   And news from the Japan Times: Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 9.34.18 PM

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You can still sign! (Click the image!)

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ASIJ Petition: St. Mary’s International School’s Twin Case of Abuse and Unaccountability

[UPDATE: on May 12, 2014, The Japan Times followed up the ASIJ case with a story on the school’s active alumni and alumnae’s petition to make admin accountable to the sexual abuse cases it has swept under the rug.  SMIS–you’re next!  Happy to say, we blogged it first!  But the more press, the merrier.  Click on picture to read:]

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We, from the St. Mary’s International School community past and present, want to take this opportunity to support the petition that ASIJ alumni, family and former staff have organized.  Many of us are / have been involved in both schools.  Please sign!

http://www.change.org/petitions/asij-board-of-directors-we-are-calling-for-an-independent-third-party-investigation

Share the short link: chn.ge/1iqeH52

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Such action and activism is the exact vigilance we admire!  When we supported a teacher with this blog, she had started out with a petition!  The alumni and alumnae of ASIJ want answers and redress from the admin of the school, which failed to protect them from sexual abuse over many years.  They want to know how many victims had come forward and were ignored.  Who ignored them?  What other bullshit had the admin swept under the rug?  The current admin’s no-further-comment about the sexual abuse cases since the story came out last month shows that they think they have no obligation to the past children who suffered under the school’s care.  What are the alumni supposed to do–continue to uphold the school’s reputation?  This scenario would be unacceptable in any other business: today’s GM CEO, Mary Barra, for example, has had to answer for the deaths due to malfunctions in the cars (now recalled), which were covered up in the years before she took office.  But girlfriend is cleaning up the mess of her predecessors Like a Boss.  Dare we ask for leadership from these admin?

Just a suggestion: ASIJ alumni and family: you need to CC a copy of this petition to the Ministry of Education in Japan, and the UN and the school certification associations–to encourage reaction.

How else can we help?  How can our story help reveal a deeper problem of jurisdictionally-gray-area international schools in Japan?

St. Mary’s community: how many brothers / instructors were sexual abusers?  Our count is four: Lawrence, Paradis, Marcel and Lessard.  We’ve learned, since Headmaster Kagei’s letter, that the school for years was a hunting ground for these predatory headmasters, teachers and VPs.  Who, in the school corporation, covered up these crimes?  How many sexual abuse victims have been paid off by the Archdiocese to keep quiet?

Let’s let the Ministry of Education and the UN know what havoc these potentially criminally unaccountable schools have been doing in Japan.  Let’s share what’s going on, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  This blog is: bit.ly/1fOekqp.  Let’s let every new family and new teacher searching for an international school in Japan know exactly what kind of admin they are dealing with before they entrust their career, minds and tuition to them.  [Our family has withdrawn our sons–so our personal advice is to vote with your wallet].

The good reputation of a school is not an abstract legacy to be protected unquestioningly at all costs by all who attended–it should be an ongoing hard-earned privilege by stewards accountable to the people they represent, past and present.  

For six years running, we are proud to have shown up as a top, first page Google search for “St. Mary’s International School” and now for the ASIJ issue.  The site from Canada which blogs about sexual abuse within the Catholic church, has now even topped us with their reports on SMIS, because of us 🙂

Good on you, ASIJ alumni and alumnae.

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Be vigilant: if they are anything like the #$%^&* admin at SMIS, they will keep slipping back into the slime.  Also, ask the right questions.

 

 

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What to Do If Your International School is Run By A**holes

Forgive the title, but is there really any other way to say it?

We went from 11,000 visitors to almost 22,500 since January because of people wanting to know what has become of the allegations in St. Mary’s International School’s sexual abuse scandals.  Counts of assault have been revealed to us like clowns coming out of the VW buggy of your worst nightmare.  And then what should we get?  A Japan Times article about a sex scandal at ASIJ within a week of its revelation!

ASIJ Japan Times Article

[Note to Japan Times: what was wrong with our story (released in January)?  Don’t the emotional lives of little boys matter as much as little girls?  Isn’t St. Mary’s as newsworthy as ASIJ?  If it weren’t for the fact that many families have kids in both schools, we’d feel left out.  We are literally, brothers and sisters.

Note to ASIJ: don’t worry, you’re not alone–we’ve got institutional pedophilia at St. Mary’s International School.]  

Newcomers to this blog have tuned into the Forum page (which is a separate annexed section about a thematically different topic from the rest of the blog), and might understandably be confused.  If you have no idea who we are or what to make of this hodgepodge of themes, we’ve put out some FAQs below.  After reading them, maybe you too can come to the conclusion that all these stories actually belong in the same bag (correct me if I’m wrong):

That the international school community in Tokyo has weak foundations in real governance and leadership–especially at the schools cited in this post.  They are inherited private oligopolies that follow a business formula.  The admin are usually inbred promotions who have never had to answer to transparency or accountability.  They rely on the Japanese norm of silence to deal with problems.  Then, “problem individuals”, after years of anguish, come back for a reckoning:

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Is this what we want?  The bloggers here, given our angle, will attempt to offer suggestions to remedy these problems in the here and now–hopefully helpful, no matter what international school you have deal with.

Our theory about the bad governance and leadership:  the international school community is made up of vulnerable, isolated individuals and families highly dependent on the private services of these educational institutions.  It is a roaring money-making, diploma-churning machine that everyone loves in Good Times:  teachers and admin make tons of money at a lower tax rate than in their home countries; staff have subsidized housing in one of the most expensive cities in the world; alumni can feel proud of their alma maters; parents have somewhere reliable to educate their kids during their stint in Japan; international kids are immersed among a student body just like themselves; new and old admin look like geniuses if they can keep the music going, though they don’t have much to tweak.  As it should be.  But what happens when you add a protest by a teacher during carnival?  Or bullying?  Or now, sexual abuse, into that mix?  And then a noisy victim or three or 32?  The whole bubble is threatened.  Nobody at the helm is individually smart enough or empowered enough to act–no active leadership has been needed in recent memory.  But the worst thing has been that no one has been moral enough to act, which should override everything.  By this, we indict Brother Michel, the head of the corporation of St. Mary’s during this scandal, Mr. Kagei and of course the litany of pedophile admin and teachers who have preyed on the student body.  The ASIJ admin are equally shirkers of doing right–ignoring the girls who came out to tell them of their plight.  But, these admin are not alone.  The Bystander Effect is real.  Everyone knows that criminals and wrong-doers are bad, but whistleblowers are even worse–because they are us…in a role we can’t imagine.  When a victim steps forward, we all take a step back, thinking of the hassle to ourselves.  A largely complacent community, with atrophied civic activist muscles, has no idea how to navigate this without being a serious buzz-kill to the God of Good Times–people would rather not have known.  Who dares provide leadership on something like this?

The knee jerk plan of admin, in absence of a real solution, has always been to ignore or silence any individual who threatens the brand name (and hence, marketability) of the school, as obviously has been done throughout the case documented by this blog at St. Mary’s International School and now, apparently at ASIJ.  St. Mary’s admin have even been known recently to go the extra step of denigrating whistleblowers in secret (Ms. Tran’s resurrected case) or settle quietly with the Archbishop (over Brother Lawrence’s victim).  Loyal teachers, parents and alumni are content to rely on the same problematic admin to…address problems.  In complacency, we are complicit.

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This is called GroupThink, a nasty phenomenon.

First, some FAQs for new readers:

1. Is this blog about St. Mary’s International School?

No, this blog has specifically tracked a case which ran 2008-2010 about a teacher who sued St. Mary’s International School for unfair dismissal.  She felt that it was the signature act of oppression by an administration that was willfully deaf, dumb and blind to transgressions made by its top-ranking admin for the 2 years she worked there.  The school paid a settlement.  The teacher is / was Ms. Tran.

2. Is this case current or past?

This blog started up again in 2012-present when Ms. Tran found out that the Linda Wayne, Curriculum Coordinator at St. Mary’s, was behind an attempt to shut her out of her post-St. Mary’s employment in the field of teaching at Tokyo universities–an unnecessary dick move.  More at: Case Background.

3.  How is this related to the sex-abuse scandal at St. Mary’s?

It isn’t.  Suddenly, during the updates of the resurrection of  Ms. Tran’s case in January 2014, the school admin released a  letter to parents with the shocking news that Brother Lawrence was accused of sexual abuse while working at St. Mary’s.  This blog, being the only free, anonymous way to discuss matters related to the school at the time, offered the Forum, for people to discuss this separate issue.

4. Where can we read more about the updates about the sex-abuse scandal at St. Mary’s?

Commenters at the Forum are becoming more forthright with what they know, so check there.  A miraculous discovery on the Forum has been a blogger from Canada named Sylvia who has dedicated an enormous amount of her time documenting every case of sexual abuse within Canada’s Catholic church.  She gives names, dates, photos and history of those in the clergy.  Sylvia has documented no fewer than four cases that have emerged along with the story of Brother Lawrence:

  • Brother Lawrence / Guy Lambert, sexual abuse allegation from 1963: bit.ly/1deuurH
  • Brother Benoit Lessard (deceased), sexual abuse of students who attended a camp KEEP in late 60s: bit.ly/1nQZKSn
  • Brother John Paradis, sexual abuse of student(s) involving fellatio during tenure 60s, 70s, mid 80s: bit.ly/OL67qC
  • Brother Marcel Villmure, sexual abuse involving molestation and threat-shaming of students with foolscap-sized nude photocopies of themselves if they told bit.ly/1jrfZP

The clearest (and unfortunately most graphic) account of abuse was given here on our own Forum and republished as a post on Sylvia’s site, by an alumnus: bit.ly/1gfyIPu.  Commenters have pointed out the incomprehensible complicity of the school secretary at the time who apologized to the victim once he emerged from the Brother’s office (a sign of her knowing what happens to the children in the office), and of the gym teacher of that era who may have known what was in store for the child as punishment, when he sent him to the Headmaster’s office for a transgression.

Second, some tips for the international school community to flex their activist muscles:

1. Japan is a first world country, so work it.

In a first world country, legitimacy and accountability are much more important to institutions than in developing countries–but one person won’t convince them.  Organizing many people to solve problems democratically is legal and effective.  In particular, parents getting on an email list, and then meeting at a rented hall where everyone pitches in is one way to get people together to discuss what they want.  Ideas:

  • A petition could result: to the media; to the police; to the UN in this case of violation of children’s rights; to the education ministry, which licenses the schools; to the “accreditation” councils which the schools depend on to rubber-stamp their “credentials” in the relatively poorly-enforced world of international teaching standards (like WASC, IB, COIS etc.).
  • Catholic parents could petition the Archdiocese and the Vatican in the St. Mary’s case.
  • A class-action lawsuit, civil damages re: endangering students.
  • A parents’ council / board with actual influence on the school’s policies, hiring decisions, admin appointments could result.  See #2.

2. We can always boil an institution’s inexplicable immoral silence down to: Money.  So hit them where it hurts.

Families that have the flexibility to move elsewhere need to show institutions that their poor governance will cost them–simply by moving to better-run schools.  Research enrolment deadlines.  Are other schools somehow inconvenient?  What is more important: family convenience or a safe, accountable school that doesn’t have a delayed-deploying sexual abuse bomb?  Other international schools trying to sit nice and quietly on the sidelines of this PR nightmare for St. Mary’s and ASIJ can show leadership by stating their thoughts on the matter and assurance of how their schools are run.

Families that are planning to stay for a longer-haul and who are themselves invested in the school community also have power.

Take the example of how large banks deal with developers.   If a developer wants to build an office / retail tower, it needs the financial backing of a huge bank.  Shovels can’t hit the ground, obviously, until this money is released.  Banks only release the money when they are 60%, 70% or 80% sure, depending on the case, that the developer has what it takes to actually run the finished-building properly and pay back that large loan.  Only then, would they start to release the funds, but even then, in stages.  So, to assure the bank, the developer, at the beginning of the project, only equipped with architectural drawings and a sales team, is busy lining up tenants and clients to fill up the imaginary tower.  They must present to the bank expressions of interest, if not sales contracts, from enough tenants or buyers to assure the bank that this will be a viable building that can do its duty of fulfilling its debt.

My point is: parents represent the bank.  Collectively, they hold the money that the school needs to run.  We are talking USD $25-30 million a year.  They absolutely need to be front and centre on the decision-making for every new school year.  Fine, a private company like these schools can have whatever board they want.  And yes, they once represented a oligopoly of schools.  But no longer: with at least a dozen choices in the Tokyo area, and growing.  However, parents new and old, as a block, remain a buyers’ monopoly: a monopsony.  Schools have a hard time attracting and retaining a customer, especially with viscerally disgusting scandals like these.  Parents deserve a checklist of assurances before releasing their cash:

  • Have grievances lodged by parents, students, teachers or alumni been solved adequately?
  • Do returning admin or teachers pose a threat / have serious complaints accrued against them?
  • Have background checks / review systems for new and returning staff been updated?
  • Who is enjoying a life-time tenure, why?
  • Are staff licensed to be working with / teaching children?
  • Is there a system in place for all members of the school community to solve problems without fear?

My experience at St. Mary’s showed no serious or enforceable system of complaint by anyone.  The admin have no accountability to anyone except themselves.  One parent-faculty memo showed only 69% of staff even have teaching certifications etc.  When we started this blog about Ms. Tran back in 2008, citing those things that Ms. Tran and we  encountered may have seemed petty and isolated.  But now look at what they actually represent!  We wish it weren’t true!

As the international school situation is now, the problem is, it is only in theory that the parents have a powerful collective hold of the school’s needed revenue.  In reality, the parents are not organized and are individually contracted with the school to pay their child’s fees.  A parents’ board would solve that: a legal entity that can direct parents, who’ve signed on, when to release money and by how much.  Even if the school outwardly refused to do business with the parent-board, it would have no way of seeking legal redress with all the individual families who participate.

Even the threat of this should be sufficient for ushering in a new era of accountability: meet the community’s demands for answers.  There is no arguing that these terrible sexual abuse scandals are a damning indication of institutional governance rot. There is no defence for it.  At least, we can make it an opportunity for change.  [Since power seems to corrupt, a compromise between the admin and the parents could be setting up a tuition-release fund held in trust / escrow until the parents get their answers].

3. Write to the the Japan Times writer, Jon Mitchell who wrote about the ASIJ case, tell him to include St. Mary’s!

Finally, an update on Ms. Tran’s defamation case against Gregory Strong of Aoyama Gakuin University

In our opinion, this case is a prime example of how someone’s drunkenness on self-perceived power and influence goes on to make them perpetuate a rotten and corrupt system of secrecy:

After the judge ruled the case a go (Ms. Tran as an overseas plaintiff had to pay a deposit to the Japanese court to prove her seriousness), Strong’s side issued arguments.  We’ve roughly translated and summarized Ms. Tran’s response below.  (Next time, in early April, Strong’s side will be able to respond.)

First: Strong’s words about Ms. Tran was in a private email to an individual, was not public and therefore does not constitute defamation.

–> The definition of defamation does not include that false remarks have to be public.  There are precedent cases within the Japanese courts that show that being public does not have to be a factor in determining defamatory remarks.  Furthermore, Strong may have written the email in confidence, but he certainly had no control over how public the email would have become, nor could he enforce its secrecy [i.e. this blog!].  Lastly, in the email that Strong wrote himself, he stated that he would likely be warning others away from hiring Ms. Tran, so his intention of keeping such gossip a secret is not true.  Therefore, the defence’s argument of the remarks being “public” or not doesn’t make sense.

Second: Ms. Tran was not qualified to work at Aoyama.

–> Ms. Tran had not sued over a job at Aoyama, nor listed it as a reason for the lawsuit.  Surely any candidate who feels qualified has the freedom to apply to a publicly posted job without fear?  It is unrelated to why Strong would go ahead and write defamatory, self-admittedly unverified, imagined things about another person that would negatively affect their reputation.

Third: the email was written simply to express why Strong would not be hiring Ms. Tran at Aoyama

–> Such an email should be directed to Ms. Tran, herself, then–not her current employer!  Also, the email does not at all talk about Ms. Tran’s qualifications.  In fact, it only mentions Strong’s ideas about Ms. Tran’s case and settlement with St. Mary’s.  So, this doesn’t give any more excusable an explanation of the email communication, and it contradicts Strong’s argument that Ms. Tran wasn’t qualified.

Lastly: Gregory Strong is not liable for the court costs in the breach-of-settlement case against St. Mary’s

–> Strong’s email specifically states that he had knowledge (whether real or fictitious is another matter) of an otherwise  confidential settlement.  He pins the source as St. Mary’s admin, cites this authority and specifies the confidential nature of the matter.  Next, he acted upon this information in the worst way possible: using it to harm one of the parties–Ms. Tran.  Would Ms. Tran have enforced the settlement with St. Mary’s, if Strong hadn’t specified in his own words how and from whom he got this information?  Of course not. [I wonder if St. Mary’s would also sue Strong for having put them through an expensive lawsuit?]

  •     *     *

There you have it, the foulest smelling week of international schooling in Tokyo.  Thanks to everyone who has been helping to lift the lid off this doozy.  Next: you are powerful, Mr. and Ms. Bystander, Bystander san, and Bystander tachi!  It’s time to do something!

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Moms! You list higher than Power!

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The alumnae of ASIJ proved to be much louder and more media savvy than the alumni of St. Mary’s…just saying.

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Why are any of us still putting up with this bullshit?  Let’s reclaim the schools and be the generation that changed things for the better. For good.

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Update on Defamation Case Against Gregory Strong

[UPDATE added below in red] We were truly surprised by the news about the sexual assault allegations against Brother Lawrence at St. Mary’s, from a letter to parents sent out on January 31.  As we wrote in the last post, the least we could do to help members of the wider school community who may be affected, is to host and facilitate a(n anonymous) discussion, found in the Forum.  We are happy to use this blog’s established existence to do that.  Apparently, many of us are interested:

[UPDATE: Here is the world-wide readership for the past week, for example:Feb 11 Stats

Here is how people came to our blog (for the past 30 days–to include January 31st, the day the letter to parents came out).  Wow–is all we have to say about the power of Facebook–507 referrals, and counting:]

Feb 11 Referrers

*     *     *

As for Ms. Tran’s case, because she submitted the overseas plaintiff deposit on time, the defense (Gregory Strong, Professor of English at Aoyama Gakuin) has had to submit arguments for the February session of the court  i.e. engage in the suit fully. That happened earlier this week.   Ms. Tran’s side will rebut the arguments for the next session, at the beginning of March.

The defense’s arguments are long and repeat much of what was said in the case with St. Mary’s earlier.  Namely, that Gregory Strong had no obligation to hire Ms. Tran at Aoyama.  Again, while this is true, the decision not to hire someone surely shouldn’t be followed by a defamatory rant to the person’s current employer, nor a written threat to stymie the person’s future chances of being hired elsewhere.  How about just not hiring the person, Mr. Strong?

We can only imagine that a small-minded, petty person with an inflated sense of self-importance and influence would bother to do that.

Upon checking out Gregory Strong’s CV, it seems he presents at McGraw-Hill Education Events at JALT, writes about EFL and ESL, and of course, is in charge of hiring for Aoyama Gakuin University’s English Department.  Thus, it is understandable why he wrote this email defaming a teacher in the “strictest confidence”: such a thing is, otherwise, utterly unprofessional to do.  Of course, there was an assumption of an unwritten Code of Silence and the support of a league of behind-the-scenes actors who have no qualms about damaging others.  It’s great that Ms. Tran’s employer at the time refused to participate.

It’ll be interesting to find out how the defense will argue that Mr. Strong felt it necessary to go the extra step of writing about fictitious court orders and settlement results against Ms. Tran in his infamous email.  And if St. Mary’s claims not to have fed Mr. Strong this information officially, then Mr. Strong needs to explain why he cited an authority at St. Mary’s.

*     *     *

We are not big fans of Codes of Silence and non-transparency.  These things may be useful for holding up reputations of institutions or the egos of those who run them, for a while, but ultimately, they create an environment full of unacknowledged cracks.  When the weakest member of a community is being punished for or prevented from speaking out, be it a new teacher, be it an isolated family or student, the community is an unsafe one.  These days we hear a lot about societies fighting to protect women, girls, minorities like the LGBT community, victims of sexual abuse (in India, Sochi, the world wide Catholic community…)–because when the weakest members feel safe and thriving, that’s when we can be assured a community is a solid one.

St. Mary’s International School was not a safe place for Ms. Tran to bring up, what should have been standard complaints: stop whispering in her ear Mr. Assistant Vice-Principal; acknowledge the test results of her students and stop closed-door meetings where a teacher is not allowed any advocate present.  It was surprising, instead the machinery that had been set up and waiting, to squash her speaking up.  In 2008, it was in the wording of the contracts that the school had set up with the teachers’ landlords, and the ambiguous wording of the employment contract itself.  These things could only be challenged in court, which took time and expense.  When the teacher overcame those, in 2010, it was the St. Mary’s admin, Linda Wayne, Curriculum Coordinator, who leveraged a network of friends in positions of power to pass on things that would damage the career of a teacher in a way that would not be visible to the courts.

Why is there machinery to quiet voices?  Why not deal with problems openly and transparently?  Is the brand of the school more important than the well-being of the individuals within it?  We are afraid so.

By the way, we don’t mean to attribute real “power” to people like Gregory Strong and Linda Wayne.  We feel like it is only applicable because in this small, claustrophobic context of international schools in Japan, and particularly at St. Mary’s — these individuals seem big.  Noting the ultimate pettiness of what was done to Ms. Tran, we know that her slanderers would not be considered worthy of their professions in a real context.  If Linda Wayne’s dinner conversation with Gregory Strong meant to excuse why St. Mary’s had to pay a settlement to Ms. Tran:

An Excuse

In our opinion, 25-30-years is much too long a tenure for people like Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong to ever be advocates of progressive education and teaching excellence.  Spotty-bottomed bureaucrats intent on reinforcing the brand of the only institution on their resumes?  That’s more likely.  Some international schools in Europe have a 7-year maximum on how long any teacher or administrator is allowed to stay.  What a great policy.

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The End of a Culture of Silence?

This message reached the school community yesterday:

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Needless to say, we are all shocked.  While this is not related to the purpose of the blog, in our course of contributing to it over the years, we have encountered several alumni who have followed these court cases, who have expressed regret over not having said more about transgressions they felt occurred during their time at the school.  While we can’t help them, we can’t imagine anyone keeping such a horrible secret for so long.  We at least hoped to demonstrate that bringing things to light can happen.  If you are an alumnus, please share this blog post in the case it may reach a person who really needs to know.  The shortlink is: http://wp.me/pn26e-9L

The implications of this letter are terrible, but at least they have opened the door for a victim or more victims to speak out about one of the hardest things to talk about.  As well, other (past, dispersed) members of the community may feel urgency and occasion to express concern, outrage, or sadness.  We wanted to help and offer the Forum page (at the top of the homepage) for people to write what they think about this matter.  In the past month, we’ve seen a sudden surge of readership and realized that many people concerned about the school community are sharing this blog on Facebook.  We will publish any comment except for profanity and personal attacks.  You can contribute anonymously.  Unfortunately, we cannot help with unfounded accusations.  If you are a victim of a crime, then we encourage you to speak to the police like this one did and cite this case (they have English interpreters).

While we applaud the full-disclosure and proactive response of the current Head Master, waiting for information when it’s clear that many of our children have been under the care and leadership of the alleged perpetrator, in recent times, is an unsettling prospect.  We personally do not feel the school counselors are qualified nor adequate in numbers to deal with a case of this gravity and potentially this many concerns.    There is nothing more important than the safety of the students.  We agree: no need to be alarmist until the facts are in.  But, if such a letter is going to be issued, then let’s talk about it!  The school would be wise to offer a school-wide dialogue about this.  Full knowledge of the extent of this allegation will come in time, but what a bomb to drop in the meantime, Mr. Head Master (!)  Thank you (?)

[Update: upon reading the letter to parents again, it looks like Br. L is prohibited from making any contact with the kids, but it doesn’t say that he was removed from campus, where he lives.  (So, it’s as if he has a cold.)  It’s also been suggested that Br. Michel actually learned that a boy was seriously sexually assaulted in the past, in August of 2013 when he handed the reins to Mr. Kagei, making this January 2014 announcement by the school administration disingenuous: “recent days”.  It also doesn’t make sense that the Archdiocese would be allowed to interfere with a police, criminal investigation.  This makes us doubt that there is one. ]

Some timely headlines: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26044852

UN to Vatican

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Litigating from Overseas

Overseas litigants taking up a case in the Japanese courts is nothing new.   The comfort women from the surrounding Asia-Pacific countries that Imperial Japan had once dominated, perennially sue the government for apologies and restitution.  The parents of murdered British teacher, Lindsay Hawker, somewhat successfully sought justice through criminal court by seeing through a life sentence for the killer.  However, unless the case is heart-stoppingly huge, we’ve often never heard of overseas litigation among regular circles.

In fact, at the first sign of meeting hardship in Japan, it’s not uncommon that unattached “gaijin” start shopping around for a ticket back to their home country to run away jurisdictionally and emotionally.

Japan is often over-sold for its planet-bizarro touristy goodtimes—and its (once) roaring yen.  Litigation here, there or anywhere is usu. considered a major downer.

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Japan = good times only!

In Ms. Tran’s case, who would want to get fired and have to deconstruct the systemic unfairness of it?  Who would want to see the aftermath?  Delve into labor laws, the plight of foreign workers, systemic abuse of power and meet the true stony-face of the Japanese working world and justice system?  If you don’t have a future here, why dig in your heels?

In fact, in Ms. Tran’s first case, the St. Mary’s admin had banked on the tried, tested and true behavioral gaijin flight pattern by:

  • reminding her that unless she took advantage right away of the free shipping back to Canada, organized by the school, of the allowable 1000 lbs of household contents, this very expensive option would be forever lost to her (knowing that they had induced her to ship about the same amount to prepare for a “life in Japan” just 2 years earlier)
  • giving her a goodbye card–colored black for demoralization, while other teachers who were retiring, moving on au naturel etc. had nice washi patterns
  • revealing at the last minute that her apt lease was actually the school’s lease and that she’d be considered a squatter if she stayed a minute longer

If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ll know that Ms. Tran, instead of worrying about the fate of her closetful of fashionable dresses, or about the school’s stationery-as-emotional-weapon, just changed the locks and stayed in the country another 4 years  (continuing for 22 more months in the same apt, until the case resolved), effectively scrambling known patterns.

So, in this case now with the St. Mary’s defense case scapegoat, Gregory Strong, how does it work that Ms. Tran can litigate in Japanese civil court, from overseas?  A quick Google search will show that Tokyo has well-established bilingual legal services (Japanese-English) for foreigners–like, overseas foreigners:

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It probably made a difference that Ms. Tran had connected with her lawyer while still living in Japan (most offices require a face-to-face, paid consultation at the first meeting).  However, the logistics of payment and communication thereafter have been simple and seamless.

Ms. Tran has had to put up 150,000 yen as a deposit required for overseas plaintiffs, in addition to court fees and one-time legal fees, as requested by Gregory Strong’s lawyer, in case Ms. Tran poses some sort of flight risk!

By the way, after 6 years, how much did Ms. Tran eventually have to ship home?  I asked and it was less than half of what she had originally brought.  Apparently, the 2008 economic crash gave her “an epiphany about banks, their promotion of consumer spending to lock people into personal debt to them in order to rely on loans and credit cards, the mechanisms by which their top institutional investors reap ungodly profits, the main source of income inequality.”  Hmm.  500 lbs of clothes is still a lot of clothes!

And, why dig in your heels, Ms. Tran?  

1. Not standing up for yourself is a top 5 death-bed regret.  

2. Kurosawa did warn of brain-rot from simple narratives:

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3. “日本が大好き, OK?”

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Lawsuit Against Gregory Strong, Professor of English at Aoyama Gakuin University

Despite our informal poll earlier showing that people figure BOTH Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong were culpable in defaming Ms. Tran, it’s been confirmed that Ms. Tran will be suing Gregory Strong through the Yokohama District Court–the first court date is in 2 days: January 8, 2014.  The case will be for defamation that originated from a conversation he testified to have had with Linda Wayne, and was reported to Ms. Tran’s employer in an email, in a way that sought to denigrate her professionally.  Following the “logic” of the courts, if St. Mary’s International School and Linda Wayne (and in fact Gregory Strong himself) were eager in defense mode to alleviate the school of any official association with that email, it leaves Gregory Strong himself responsible for what he wrote.

Ms. Tran has learned from St. Mary’s teachers that Linda Wayne will be leaving St. Mary’s at the end of the school year, and probably Japan.  Her fateful conversation with Gregory Strong, speaking on behalf of the school as one of its admin, leading to this defamation suit will be something she has left behind for her friend Gregory Strong.  What a way to cap off a 20+ year friendship in Asia!  Something actually fitting for Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong and their idea of relating to people.  They had wanted to spread the word about Ms. Tran.  Well, they got what they wanted.

What will Ms. Linda Wayne do?  The hope is any profession that has to do with people and social skills will be spared.  A consultant for school accreditation?  Supply teaching?  Will she have new coworkers or new neighbors?  Probably.  I hope they use Google.  Her husband Joe was a nice guy–if he’s well now, maybe he can represent them to new folk.

[Update January 20: it has been suggested that Linda Wayne, who is not at retirement age, is being asked to finish her tenure at the school.  2013 ended two major uses the school corporation had for Wayne:  

1. Undoubtedly, she has had to answer to the litigation against the school sparked by her friend Gregory Strong, who had cited her office at the school as the source of defamatory remarks.  The school’s successful downloading of all the responsibility on Strong himself likely did not mitigate the fact that the poor choice of having communicated sensitive issues to such an indiscreet person put the school at risk and cost them unnecessary legal expenses in three levels of court.

2.  The school, as per usual, also depended on Wayne, as the Curriculum Coordinator, to see through another accreditation process.  

Since the corporation has finished squeezing both responsibilities out of her, it’s curtains, is it?]

The fact that Ms. Tran is pursuing litigation from overseas can cause the other side and the courts to doubt the sincerity and authenticity of the claim–after all, it will cost Gregory Strong lawyer fees to defend himself and an overseas’ plaintiff could drop the case without recourse.  To that end, Japanese courts have a provision that may require Ms. Tran to post a type of deposit to ensure that she is not taking this lightly.  I’m sure Ms. Tran will not hesitate to wire that amount over.  [But FYI, the yen is sure to tank against CAD / USD…]

OK, that’s all we’ve found out for now and we are sure of its accuracy.  Thought I’d share 🙂

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The Statistics Behind Our Blog: Thank you!

Thank you, to our readers!  You have taken an interest, given us feedback and made us feel that this issue is being discussed.  That’s all we’ve wanted.

As you know, the bloggers who have contributed in writing and translating here, have done so to help readers learn how to navigate a system that is designed to keep an individual quiet, stop  progress and discourage speaking up when something is wrong.  It was, in particular, illustrated by Ms. Tran’s case and how she’s fought back.    Most of us have been direct members of the school community, which deals with so many children and vulnerable families that can’t afford to have a bad experience with St. Mary’s.  In discussing Ms. Tran’s case, we hope that the school will think twice about treating any individual like this again.

We thought you might be interested in the statistics that you have generated over time.  As writers, we are not counted if we log in as writers (and we try not to be).

1. Over the months, even when there was no activity from us (we resumed recently from an over-3-year hiatus, in October 2013), this blog seemed to sustain interest and stand as a resource for people to learn about this case at St. Mary’s.  At the end of 2012, WordPress, the host of this blog, showed us that, on average, visitors come to view multiple blog posts:

Stats by month

2. More recent stats show, for example, in the past 90 days, links from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were among sources that drove our traffic:

Referrers 90 day stats

3.  Since “Search Engines” were the strongest source of traffic, we wondered what were some of the terms people searched?  It turns out, some people search specifically for Ms. Tran and this story, about Linda Wayne, and even now for Gregory Strong at Aoyama University.  A candidate teacher searched for vacancies at St. Mary’s International School.  And people look for advice about labor disputes in Japan:

search terms stats 30 days

4. In the past month, it was no surprise that people read our most recent posts.  But they also seemed to dig through the archives too:

Content 30 day stats

5. Our FAVORITE stats is this one: our blog is being read all over the world!! (The view allowed as far back as February of 2012):

Stats by country since Feb 2012

So, thank you.  And please continue to share this story with readers you think would be interested.  The shortlink to our home page is http://bit.ly/1cfYNYm .

 

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Part 3: Don’t Expect the Japanese Courts to Care

Recap of Part 2:

[Update: Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong’s initial court letters were added to the last post]

  • Ms. Tran realized that court was the only way to find out who was really behind the email, which attacked her teaching reputation and her career.  So, she took St. Mary’s back to court for Breach of Settlement because the email’s author had specified that he knew of the settlement details from a school admin.  The school had signed a confidentiality clause.  Professor of English at Aoyama Gakuin University, Gregory Strong was this email author–a man Ms. Tran had never met, but to whom she did apply for a job.

  • In court, St. Mary’s Curriculum Coordinator, Linda Wayne, testified that she had spoken of the case and of the settlement to Mr. Strong.  But the school used the defense that she was uninformed and did not really know what she was talking about, thus, the information that was passed on to Gregory Strong was, essentially, gossip and was not a technical account of the settlement details.  Gregory Strong, who was not being sued, but was obviously responsible for exposing St. Mary’s to this court case testified  to help the school that the information was indeed just gossip.  Furthermore, he took some responsibility for fabricating the information in the email based on his own observations.

  • The District Court ruled that since the school lied about the settlement, they hadn’t breached it.

Next:

Ms. Tran was a little more than creeped out by Gregory Strong, a stranger, who seemed to have such personal involvement in sabotaging her career.   As well, it was disappointing that the courts did not uphold their own confidentiality clause.  How inconvenient for a individual!

Ms. Tran appealed to the High Court asking: isn’t the fact of discussing the settlement, especially if it involves lies causing harm to a party, part of the rationale behind a “confidentiality clause”?  Back when the case ended in 2010, the confidentiality clause evidently had an exception: for Ms. Tran to write a final statement to the school community about the case, for closure.  As a member of the school community who opted to be on this list, I got this email:

Court Announcement May 2010:

“[英文]

I would like to inform you that the dispute with St. Mary’s International School ended at Tokyo District Court on April 15, 2010.

 St. Mary’s International School regrets the dispute.

 The school and I confirmed that I worked as a teacher at the school, and my employment contract was completed.  We agreed to accept the court mediated settlement that includes a mutually agreed upon amount.

 Throughout this process, many students, parents and teachers of St. Mary’s have been a tremendous source of support to me morally and through letters and petitions.  It was my pleasure to see this process through and find a way for us to be heard clearly in the school community.

 私と聖マリア学園との間の労使紛争が、東京地方裁判所において、2010年4月15日に、聖マリア学 園において労使紛争が起こったことについて遺憾の意を表明し、私が聖マリア学園との間の雇用契約に基づき教師として勤め、同契約の雇用期間が満了したこと を確認した上、私が納得した解決金の支払等を内容とする和解が成立して解決したことをお知らせします。

 これまで私の精神的支えになり、手紙や署名により支援していただいた聖マリア学園の生徒、保護者の皆様、ま た、同僚の教師の皆様のおかげで解決に至りましたことを心より感謝申し上げます。この労使紛争が円満に解決したこと、この解決を皆様に 報告できたことを喜ばしく思っています。

 宜しくおねがいします

So, had “gossiping” with members of the teaching industry about the settlement been allowable too, for the school?  Ms. Tran did not remember signing off on that.  According to the court papers, apparently, the confidentiality clause read like most ones do–that neither party was to discuss the settlement details to a 3rd party.  That’s pretty clear!  However, despite the appeal, the High Court did not really improve on or add further comments to the District Court’s ruling.  The papers went through the appeal process like oats through a horse.  Lying about a settlement is not breaching the settlement.

The Supreme Court?  Yawn.  It might have potentially been an Elle Woods’ moment,

but Ms. Tran probably should have realized that she needed to get in line to seek any social justice in Japan from that institution.  The Supreme Court wrote that they had nothing to add, to the nothing that the High Court had added.

Oh Ms. Tran, get in line:

Supreme Court Upholds Non-Disclosure of Companies Whose Employees Died of Overwork

Comfort Women Still Fight For Justice

Courts block evacuation of Fukushima kids, even after admitting hazards

Oh, and not to mention the “terrorism” that freedom of speech has now become here in Japan under Shiny Ape.

So, what we learned from all this is that technical adherence to court orders / laws / rules is what matters to courts.  Therefore, if you find yourselves settling in court–you might want to add “infinity” after each clause, in case the childish party you’re dealing with abuses it once you’re back in the school yard.

Next: This case was either a Breach of Settlement or a Defamation case.  So, since it wasn’t a breach, lying about someone must be defamation (?)  But who is responsible for the defamation?

As well, we wonder, did Linda Wayne speak on behalf of the school corporation when she falsely characterized the settlement and the record of a teacher?  If not, had the school done anything to reprimand her and this behaviour?

If this is done to a teacher, would it be done to students or families who take up an issue at the school?  i.e. Is St. Mary’s International School a bully institution?

Is Japan an institution that makes it hard for individuals to protest being bullied…by institutions?

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Part 2: St. Mary’s Excuses in Court

clowns-jokers

Ms. Tran didn’t meet much variety in this litigation.

[Update: some court documents have been added on December 2, 2013.] Hello again.  I didn’t mean for the wait from Part 1 to be dramatically longish, but I cannot read Japanese reliably without my assistant by my side and there are quite a few documents.  I’ve been recently reminded to get on with it.  So, you’ll have to excuse me for writing first and including court documents later when I can verify details.

That doesn’t stop us from discussing the essentials, though!

So, Ms. Tran realized that a strange man in the university industry she didn’t even know (Aoyama Gakuin University Professor, Gregory Strong) had written a terribly defamatory email about her–sent to her current employer.  He specifically cited St. Mary’s admin as the source of his information.  Because the email was so full of personal vitriol against Ms. Tran, she couldn’t imagine how a stranger would convincingly be able to do it.  It seemed very probable that St. Mary’s was behind it.

Why always court, Ms. Tran?

1. The best thing about litigation in Japan is that it is much cheaper than it would ever be in the US or Europe.  Therefore, regular people can afford to resolve their problems in a civilized way and leave the yakuza out of it.  Depending on the lawyer, Ms. Tran has paid between 315,000 to 440,000 yen per case.  Appealing is an additional 100,000 yen or so.  And there are document fees (sending, printing) of a few more man.  If you win a settlement, the lawyer gets 16%.

2. In addition, taking a case to court causes it to be accessible to the public.   For instance, all of Ms. Tran’s cases can be found at the Tokyo District Court under their file numbers.  And under Japanese law, all parties are free to discuss matters in the case, except details under a confidentiality order.  Believe it or not, I have actually adhered to this rule.  I figure, taking it online and making this narrative known is just good to know.  Sunlight disinfects.

3. Matters get solved while you go on with your life.  Ms. Tran was in the university industry and worked every day.  Her lawyers went to the court meetings (and she did too sometimes), but it did not disrupt her work.  Furthermore, taking her bullies to task through expensive litigation (for the school) was an important  sting she wanted them to feel every time they felt entitled to #$%! with people.  With this lesson, would St. Mary’s think twice about what they’d say to her future employers–some of whom might be “testing” the school?  Ms. Tran thought it would certainly help.

4. As a foreign worker in Japan, there is actually SO MUCH bullshit dealing with an employer who leverages your ignorance of your rights and Japanese law to screw you, that hiring a bilingual lawyer is the only way to understand and assert your rights.

So, court it was!  

Ms. Tran at this point didn’t know the identity of the St. Mary’s admin who had been cited as the bully in her new profession.  It was important to find out.  She figured it was either Curriculum Coordinator Linda Wayne, or (now) Elementary Principal Michael DiMuzio, since both of them were the main muddle-managers [sic] in the fiasco of 2006-8, and have proven capabilities in such a thing.  The elderly Catholic Brothers?  Maybe, if they weren’t always napping.

Though Gregory Strong was a stranger, professional and grown man, there was always the possibility that he made all that strange gossip up.  Who knows, people with an obsession and a lot of time on their hands can do a lot of damage.  In any case–“it was important to find out”.

Round 1: The school was caught in a panic once Ms.Tran served them court papers.  In the District Court they brought out everything they could to mitigate why or what they did or didn’t talk to Gregory Strong about–several strands of cooked spaghetti from the school’s lawyers, were thrown at the wall, which one would stick?

  • *Ms. Tran held a scholarship for her former students on YouTube!!  (um….so?)
  • The blog was never taken down!! (well, that was never in the settlement terms, my dears)
  • Linda Wayne, was stressed about the prolonged court case and had to talk to her friend Gregory Strong–but it was just over dinner.  And he’s a friend. (also coincidentally a long-time recruiter in the university teaching industry) 
  • Linda Wayne, although an administrator, wasn’t exactly present herself at the settlement signing so she couldn’t have known the details of the settlement to ever be speaking about them accurately (I guess the “school corporation” only includes the 2 dudes present at the signing)
  • Linda Wayne only helped draft the settlement of the first case–she didn’t actually get to see the final version (oh yes!  the drafts were one week apart and several adjectives different)

(I know, I know, the logic is amazing)!  [UPDATE: Here is her letter to the court (in English and in Japanese) being vague on dates and details (for instance, conveniently only remembering dates after the incident of defamation), vague on whether it is Gregory Strong who is the liar for saying that she had spoken to him about the settlement, or whether she is the liar for being a top administrator, yet claiming not to be privy to a settlement she helped to draft:

Linda Wayne English Court Statement      Linda Wayne Japanese Court Statement

And here is Gregory Strong’s signature on the case:

Gregory Strong Statement Signature (Japanese)]

Gregory Strong (you can imagine how popular he must be with St. Mary’s admin) had to step up too!  After all, it was HIS indiscreet email that had caused legal harm to befall the sacred institution of his long time friend.  What did he say?

  • He had seen Ms. Tran demonstrate at the SMIS carnival himself!! (I guess she had been holding a sign detailing her contract terms for him to see?)
  • He had seen Ms. Tran’s scholarship Youtube videos!!  (declaring the settlement details in way that would ruin her career?)
  • He did have a conversation with Linda Wayne about the settlement, but since she didn’t actually know any details, then it was all just gossip and lies–nothing true about Ms. Tran or the settlement details.
  • The email that he wrote then, was just conjecture (i.e. gossip) and not truth; not a breach of the settlement’s actual details.

Ms. Tran’s lawyer, an older gentleman who has long defended foreigners from all kinds of crap (and from other foreigners in this case), in addition to being the president of a law firm in Kita-Senju, had asked Ms. Tran to choose at the beginning: defamation or breach-of-settlement case?  But there would not be two cases at once.  Ms. Tran thought that establishing identities and getting testimonial court records was a pretty necessary first step.  So, that was the breach-of-settlement case.

Alice Flamingo

Japanese courts are like this flamingo croquet game.

The Tokyo District Court ruled that since the details Gregory Strong cited in the email turned out to be all inaccurate, it means that Linda Wayne wasn’t telling the truth about the settlement, and therefore wasn’t talking about the details of the settlement.  Therefore the school lied about, but did not breach the settlement.

Do we smile or frown at this verdict?  Laugh or cry?  It’s hard to tell.  I myself am going to get a beer.

Next, Part 3: Ms. Tran asks the High Court: doesn’t lying about the settlement qualify as speaking about it? #curious (What’s the point of a confidentiality clause again?)

* This is the YouTube scholarship video Ms.Tran made after the settlement, that the school used in their defense.  Basically, if SHE talked about the settlement in the video, why couldn’t they?  The judge ruled that this was a non-issue (because there’s nuthin in this video) and was not part of the settlement details.

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Part 1: Re-Opening the Court Case Against St. Mary’s

As promised, I wanted to blog about Ms. Tran’s re-opened court case with St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo, Japan.  The unfair dismissal case that the teacher had brought against the school in 2008 was supposed to be finished in May of 2010 through a settlement.  However, it resurrected, zombie-style, when Ms. Tran found out some disturbing news one day in November of 2010.  This strangely involved a Professor of the English Department of Aoyama Gakuin University–someone Ms. Tran has never met.

Some Background:

The attempted firing of the new teacher had snowballed from power harassment incidents involving the Assistant Elementary Vice Principal, Michael Dimuzio and Curriculum Coordinator, Linda Wayne. At the time, (as it still is now) the school:

– was not unionized,

– gave comfortable salaries,

– had a largely transient student body, whose parents had an interest in avoiding criticism or judgment on their family or son in the temporary community

– was headed by aging French Catholic Brothers who routinely left the administration to small-town middle managers, doing the same job in their English-only bubble for decades

– had internal reports that the school had lent large Tokyo-mortgages to several teaching couples, administrators and managers in the past,

All these seemingly neutral ingredients ensured a year-in-year-out atmosphere of complacency and cesspool-like homeostasis.  But perhaps the calm was just a rouse.  The glue (goo?) holding this set-up together might have actually been the looming threat of default on all sides.  Therefore, if someone wanted to speak out about a problem, there were many forces in the school community with an interest to shut it down.  Here Ms. Tran was protesting at St. Mary’s International School’s Carnival, just before she went to court:

While many other teachers were resigned to complain behind closed doors, Ms. Tran escalated her issue until she got a resolution because last time anyone checked, Japan was a first world country.  She took her problem through the school (useless), through the mediation of  the Tokyo Government’s Labor Mediation (no teeth or jurisdiction), through collective bargaining with a labour union (obliges school to listen, but not act; strikes and demos become legal;  access to union lawyer), and then through civil court, which was the only body able to judge or award damages.  It all  finally ended in a settlement 2 years later.  Settlements are supposed to help both sides move on.  At the end of the day, the school was not able to “dismiss” her based on “incompetency” because there had been no evidence submitted to warrant it–this was the most important thing Ms. Tran wanted to establish.  As a result, the school’s dismissal of her didn’t stand, and Ms. Tran was serious about maintaining her teaching record coming into this mess, as she was leaving it.  So, before the case ended, she asked the judge to get the school to re-issue her a letter of recommendation and they complied.  Ms. Tran knew that the international school community was small, with long-time networks of former jet-setting teachers who keep in touch all over the world, for better or for worse, trading intel/gossip on teachers and schools.  The hand-signed letterhead was not fail-proof, but it would provide interesting contrast in case a follow-up phone call with the school didn’t corroborate it!

For her part, she was asked by the court to talk to “whoever it was” that ran this blog, to stop it.  Since I ran the blog as a supporter in all this, and even if it was just a pre-condition to the settlement that I stop, I saw the fairness in it, and did.  That was then!

Back to the Re-Opening of the Case:

Ms. Tran had by then, moved onto teaching at universities in the Tokyo area.   The university sector generally has part-time positions (paid by the number of courses taught) and if one wanted to make more money in the sector, one took on several courses at the same university, or several universities.

Ms. Tran while suing the school, had been completing her Master’s Degree from the University of Toronto, which was the last qualification she needed to teach at universities in Japan.    By November 2010, she had been holding down courses at three universities and felt she could take on a fourth.  At the advice of one of her sempai, who was sure he’d be able to recommend her into a block of several courses at Aoyama Gakuin University, she applied to the school.

Now, usually, an applicant never quite knows “why” it is that a prospective employer might not hire him or her.  God knows, there were some rejections after the court case.  But Ms. Tran was adamant about leaving on her resume: the 2 years that she had poured her heart and soul into doing right by her 3rd graders at St. Mary’s International School!  There was no way that was going to waste!  Now, you’d think this would pose the risk of a prospective employer calling the admin, getting an earful and getting scared away from hiring her.  And Ms. Tran was well aware that was a possibility–even suspected that was the case, despite that letter of recommendation.  But then again, teachers: this is exactly the kind of filter that is necessary to weed out unthinking, unquestioning a-hole employers, anyway.  In fact, Ms. Tran even got hired at a university, whose one English department was run by a St. Mary’s parent well aware of the case!  Anyway, when she didn’t get a response to the job at Aoyama, she figured it was what it was, and moved on.  UNTIL…

One day, she was given notice of an email written by Gregory Strong, of the English Department at Aoyama Gakuin University, to whom she had applied.  The email was not to Ms. Tran, but to one of Ms. Tran’s employers.  For anyone interested, the full text of the following letter (which was submitted as evidence) is retrievable by referencing the court case, at the Tokyo District Court in Kasumigaseki:

1st Court Case Number

(Case number)

1st Court Case Plaintiff

(Ms. Tran, plaintiff and her lawyer)

1st Court Case Defendant

(St. Mary’s International School, Thomas Tremblay Head of the School Corporation, defendant and their lawyers)

Gregory Strong email

That’s right: an administrator at St. Mary’s, despite a court order to stay quiet about the case, decided that attacking the teacher within the teaching industry would be a good strategy–because her teaching opportunities would be damaged, and she would never know why if it were done in secrecy.  Who did they talk to?  How many people did they talk to?  Who knows.  But this Gregory Strong accidentally went on record via email here, to show that this was a interesting game for him to play.  He is the recruiter for a university, and clearly believed he had influence over Ms. Tran’s employer in this email, to follow his  judgment, which was handed down to him by St. Mary’s.  I’m writing this to let people at the school know what tactics were used.

Strange isn’t it?  (No, I don’t mean the ungrammatical letter written by an apparent English Department head).  I mean, isn’t this petty?  I have never met Gregory Strong, but I assume he is a grown man, and an adult even.  I have also learned that he has never met Ms. Tran.  Yet, what small-minded, petty, evil (?) person would write something that would undermine the livelihood of a person he doesn’t even know?  Someone who would find it their personal job to spread unsubstantiated rumours for no one’s gain–just out of pure revenge on behalf of his friend at St. Mary’s.  As if it were the mind of an attack dog, not a professional.  Here, Gregory Strong seemed to rely on some personal network of “highly influential” employers in the teaching business to exact his power over the teacher’s fate.  Classic delusions of self-importance and grandeur?  Well, despite any intended importance it may have had, the email wasn’t received as Mr. Strong had hoped.  Ms. Tran’s employer, who found the letter incongruous with reality and was put off that it seemed to encourage him to act on unfounded, unprofessional gossip, did the right thing: he let Ms. Tran know what was being said about her in the teaching industry.  Teachers, this is a rare case when you’re let in on crucial intel on detrimental gossip about your life!!

Catching a whiff of familiar smelling garbage, Ms. Tran, with her special St. Mary’s fund from earlier in 2010, thought this might be worth looking into.  But, what was going on here?  Defamation?  By whom exactly?  Or was it a breach of the confidentiality clause in the settlement, by the school?  Or was Gregory Strong gossiping (many of the settlement details he wrote about were awfully skewed to favour St. Mary’s–something that Ms. Tran didn’t remember signing off on–like the one about the court barring her from contacting parents and students?  How would that ever be enforced for life?  Her blogging?  The numerous parent complaints?  Had they existed, the school would have used them as evidence to win the case, but didn’t.  And the one that says the school terminated her contract–isn’t that what the unfair dismissal case sought to undo?  Really, Mr. Strong?  Are critical thinking skills available in your department?)

Ms. Tran also wanted to find out who Gregory Strong’s admin friend was at St. Mary’s–and what role this person might have had in defaming / breaching the settlement etc.  Though it was entirely possible that Gregory Strong was an independent gossip, since he specifically implicated a St. Mary’s admin friend as his source of knowledge of the “settlement”, Ms. Tran’s lawyer opened the old case back up.

Turns out:

Linda Wayne, the Curriculum Coordinator at St. Mary’s International School was the source of Strong’s defamatory ideas / settlement gossip about the teacher.  Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong had apparently taught together in the ’90s at another international school, and surprise, formed some ever-lasting network of slave-owner-mentality folks who evidently took out their ________frustrations on others (*shudder).  Linda Wayne had been one of two people who testified in the original unfair dismissal case (the other was the Business Manager).  Good times, click here to read what she testified.  She was also an admin involved in negotiating the settlement.

Once this came out in court, Ms. Tran was totally unsurprised.  It was merely a suspicion confirmed, folks.  The vindictive spreading of lies, in secret, and encouraging others to participate in her ruin (the ruin of someone they didn’t like) was exactly what Ms. Tran had experienced throughout the whole ordeal with the school since she started working there.  However, it was just very rare to able to confirm that something like this was happening.  But there it is, teachers, parents, alumni, and students.  There it is.

Also, if I may add, this case must have caused an interesting tension between Gregory Strong and Linda Wayne, who had to cooperate to defend the school corporation–but were themselves the causes of this lawsuit happening.  I wonder how that friendship is going?  As well, Ms. Tran’s lawyers were union and public lawyers, who work, at most, inexpensively, to help social-cause cases.  St. Mary’s private lawyers are slightly more expensive.  I’m just thinking that the court fees in this thing for the school alone might have been a source of disappointment in Wayne and Strong, by the school corporation.  After all, tight secrecy of ill deeds is usually sufficient to avoid being called-out in such an organization.  Linda Wayne, I think, was just doing what she knew would be approved and supported by the school.  Gregory Strong was a weak link, this time.

Part 2?  I warn that it will just contain mind-numbing incredulous-ness, that come from the Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong’s excuses in court.  So….should we all be scared of St. Mary’s “power”?  Well, let’s see: their “power” is apparently a network of unprofessional gossips who spread blacklists to remind themselves that they are in some kind of inner-circle.  I’d doubt the professional ethics of “Collusion”.  And they have friends like Gregory Strong.  I mean, look at the way he writes!  It’s incredible to imagine that in Japan, these individuals are at the top of their professions.  Laughable.  However, the amount of money they wasted from the school corporation’s funds to do all this should be a note to all parents, teachers, students and sponsors.  I’d estimate that the school has spent at least 12-15 million yen reconciling their professional ethics in court with Ms. Tran, who challenges them every chance she gets.  What could that money have gone to?  Or maybe this is an expensive lesson that the school community has needed to go through.

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We’re Baa-ack in 2013! Shocking Zombie News & a Quiz

Or should I say, shocking “Bully” news?

Hi There!  It’s near the end of 2013.  You’ll not believe what I have to write.

Since the 2010 settlement between Ms. Tran and the school, as an insider at the school and supporter of what Ms. Tran was doing, I was asked to stop blogging about this “dead” issue.  The school was itchy about this blog being up and had agreed to give her a letter of reference if I stopped.  Though Ms. Tran had no control over the blog, in order to facilitate the signing of a confidentiality agreement, and an agreement to a settlement sum…and, because I didn’t want to interfere with her chances of becoming a Japanese millionaire (ha), I conceded.

But what restraint it has been!  Because a “dead” issue IT WAS NOT!!!  Would you believe they have been in COURT all this time?!  The teacher had found out, in a rare interception of an email, that an administrator at the school had been trying to ruin her chances of working within the university system after she left St. Mary’s.  (“A school with a heart”.  Really.)  Although the school corporation had signed a confidentiality agreement in settling the case where Ms. Tran sued them, it appeared that one of their top admin, a woman heavily involved in the case, felt it necessary to badmouth Ms. Tran after the settlement, using her position in the school and inside knowledge of the case as credentials, to a 3rd party.  Of course, she told the story of the settlement a way that was highly unfavourable to Ms. Tran (and highly favourable to the school—can you imagine Ms. Tran signing a settlement that sounded like that?!).  Anyway, the admin had hoped to do it “confidentially”.  But, too bad it got out, which surely was an embarrassment the school and its heroine administrator.  So, Ms. Tran, using her special “St. Mary’s fund”, decided to take them back into court for breach of the settlement terms–and to find out, actually, who it was that would be so petty and evil.  Who at St. Mary’s International School allowed this bullying to continue?  Ms. Tran had zero tolerance with bullying among her students.  She certainly wasn’t going to take this without saying something.  Thus, this case was revived, like a zombie!

If you are a member of the school community and always had a paranoia about whether the administrators would be the petty and evil sort if it really came down to dealing with a teacher or parent who crossed them, let this upcoming story tell you a story of…well, pettiness and evil.

I have a LOT of reading, fact-checking and catching up to do before I write again.  It will be soon.  Cuz it would be FUN to name names, wouldn’t it?

Now, here’s an interesting question: what sort of connections or tactics do you think the school would have to ruin a teacher’s name?  On what scale do they work?

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 2.52.39 AM

Wow, there’s a book for everything!

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Postcard from the Edge

Hello there! It has been ages since my last post. I had been hoping to leave this blog up to help anyone who needed to see what steps to take to fight an unfair dismissal. Though, reading back on some comments and letters, I wanted to tie up some loose ends. As well as comment on what, if anything, a big catastrophe like this earthquake could mean for foreign teachers.

Loose ends:

1. Ms. Tran cannot be contacted through this site. Nor am I allowed to give information on the union she is part of. The school would have a lot of motivation to try to link them to this site and cry defamation…(or maybe just cry). But, as we know, WordPress is great at protecting freedom of speech.

2. Many have been unclear on what it was that Ms. Tran got out of the settlement. In an unfair dismissal case, people sue for their job back, or the equivalent of back pay. In Ms. Tran’s case, it was for the job and no amount of money was specified. However, in settlements, it is always money that finishes the case. Getting her job back would have been weird for everyone.

3. Some have wondered what has happened to Ms. Tran and what she has learned. Well, she continues to putter about Tokyo, having dinner parties and doing her job. In her new work, well, the work of the last 2 years after leaving St. Mary’s, she has happily experienced the way teacher evaluation has been done at other institutions. For example, teachers are video taped and employers write a detailed report of what they saw with comments. All which is verifiable by looking at the tape. This is accompanied by a teacher self-evaluation and meetings with positive encouragement. Other teachers are required to watch each other’s tapes and write comments. All teachers undergo the same process, administered with objective rigor. Thus, when an evaluation comes out, you can bet it is useful and usable. It has been important to experience this fresh breath of professionalism. (My god. Isn’t this supposed to be normal?)

Japan in turmoil:

Many foreign teachers might have had a proper fright after that crazy earthquake on Friday March 11, 2011. Also, those nuclear meltdown warnings don’t sound so appetizing. Some might be tendering their resignation right now. Here are some ideas for those who are staying, regarding labor issues / education. (I am no expert, just FYI from a lowly blogger):

1. Thank you for continuing to stay in Japan. Your services are important for maintaining the level of education and economic progress of the country. Talk to your fellow teachers and employers about working together toward those goals. (An exodus of foreign teachers would be another huge setback for Japan, thus this is a time for teachers to recognize their worth).

2. Cooperate with your employer (on a reasonable level) to adjust to things like mandatory time off due to planned power cuts. Teachers on salary suffer less of course, but teachers being paid by the hour–you need to foresee how your income will be affected and decide what to do accordingly. Judge clearly to see if your employer is truly setback by the devastation or just using this event to justify layoffs that were in the works anyway etc. This is an important time to document things. Also, be aware that if you form your own union or join a pre-existing one, you become protected under Trade Union Law (which is can be a pre-emptive precaution to lay-offs and unfair firings etc). http://www.tabunka.org/special/trade.html

Stay informed with the news: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nhk-world-tv

and

The power cuts–(& find out if you can get to work on time!):
http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tepco.co.jp%2Findex-j.html&act=url

3. This is an amazing time in Japan. It can be used to educate students on humanitarian issues and the concept of rebuilding Japan. Talk to your staff about incorporating this into your curriculum from here on in. Make your school, students and staff on the forefront of helping to donate, conserve energy and preparing students to live in a country that has undergone a heavy blow etc. This is the post-WW2 moment and kick-in-the-pants that complacent and stagnate Japan has been waiting for. The help of foreign workers, English, and a motivated young generation is what is needed to get back on track. You are needed more than ever–foreign teachers committed to staying in Japan should get together and recognize that you are an important force of redemption and rebuilding here!!

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Woohoo!!!

The historic signing of papers finally happened today!! Stubbornness finally caved.  So, while I assume the teacher is out to celebrate, I at least squeezed out an inventory list!

1. Meeting so many amazing people along the way who understand exactly why you must do something. Check.
2. Witnessing the magical helpful spirit of Japanese friends who translated hundreds of documents within days. Check.
3. MAKING the other side listen and LOOK at evidence–in Collective Bargaining, in court. Check.
4. Believing in self-determination and seeing it realized. Check.
5. Dragging the other side through years of time-loss, expense, publicity. Check.
6. 11,000 audited hits and counting. Check.
7. Being recognized by alumni and students who follow this thing in other parts of the world. Check.
8. Making a lasting impression. Check.
9. Learning from every moment. Check.
10. Getting to know the lovely maternal and paternal spirit of so many parents at St. Mary’s. Check.
11. Wiping the other side’s smugness up with the mop they gave you. Check!
12. Seeing karmic retribution kick BUTTS. (Though they [ahem] were rather hard to miss). Check and Check!

…And although Richard Dawkins is right…I can’t help but say, God IS watching! The Old and New Testament God! And I like how He rolls His eyes at certain people, or at least pretends to sleep when they ask Him for things they don’t deserve. 😛 Awesome.

Woohoo!!! Stay tuned for more posts. I ‘ve wanted to post a few more things…I’ll get my act together soon!

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This just in!

Today, the teacher met with the school’s principal and business manager for what was supposed to be a final court meeting.

It was a good thing Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were left back at base camp. Though it is always fun to see them, weeble-wobbling down a hallway.

But what am I saying? The small-stuffy-room meetings had no room for me either! I have gotten my information downstream…

But, I’m such a discerning listener! This is what I’ve learned 🙂

So, the judge meets with each side individually to hammer out details. The other side has to wait outside the room. Good thing the teacher brought snacks and a friend to chat with for almost 3 hours!

The teacher and the school are trying to come up with something that would sound dignified for all those involved. This is important in a settlement, especially for the party that needs to save face the most (that’s what settlements are all about).

But I say,

No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig…

or

How much rouge you put on a corpse…

Pigs will always be pigs. However, death with some make-up can make it seem more pleasant for onlookers…but, it’s still…dead.

Both sides will translate something into English and then have to agree on a translation. So, there is, yet ANOTHER court date: April 15th.

Anyway, **!!! I heard that the teacher is double-checking her email list. If you have updated your email recently and / or as a supporting parent / student / teacher are interested in being included on the teacher’s updated list of supporting parent / student / teachers, don’t hesitate to be included!!

How?

You can send your email address here whenever you write a comment (you can just write a short comment, that I won’t post if you don’t want). Your email will be anonymous to the public, but I can see it. I will pass it on to her! I’m sure she is smart enough to BCC you in mass emails.So, I wonder if this has been meaningful to the teacher? Was the whole process the thing that was meaningful–3.5 years of dealing with these people/multi-celled organisms? Or does it all come down to one final moment, one settlement, one piece of paper?

In the words of LL Cool J: “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.” 🙂

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The latest goings on

Without giving too much away, let me just say that there will be another court date on April 7, between the teacher and the school to discuss “thangz”.

Unfortunately, because this was held in a stuffy tiny room, there won’t be space enough for any of us onlookers. But rest assured, I will find out some way, some how and let you know how things are going down.

However this ends, if it ends, it needs to be done in a meaningful way. I’m sure the teacher wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Correction

Friday, March 26 at 15:45, on the 13th floor, in “bu” 19…. the case could end!

But probably not. Apparently, the judge has asked the 2 sides to make some kind of out-of-court settlement before he hands down a decision. This is the second time the judge has made such a recommendation. The first time, the school opted not to settle and submit evidence instead [don’t know why they didn’t just submit evidence pro-actively to begin with 1 year into the court case. Perhaps they were waiting for the teacher’s visa to expire?–Then they wouldn’t have to do any work. But strangely enough, she still seems to haunt them in Japan!]. The evidence consisted of 27 character references for the Assistant Vice Principal, which did not mention the teacher at all. And negative letters by people who had all written positive things 3 years before.

The teacher looks forward to:
1. Hearing out just, out-of-court negotiation ideas from the school (won’t happen)
2. Appealing this case to the next level (either by the school or by the teacher), which could take another year or two. But the good thing about that would be the essence of the case would be further distilled…
The next level is High Court, which has 3 judges, who attend court sessions together. This is also open to the public.

The teacher is happy to be going through the process. Every level it goes, the more interesting it gets. And, she figures, the fresher the memory of the necessity to treat people fairly will stay within the school. This is a classic case. Professor Rory O’Day from the University of Waterloo, Canada wrote almost exactlyabout this case in 1974. I recommend his following article to all international school teachers and all students who want change in an organization (here is an excerpt):

“In the discussion that follows, I will be concerned primarily with the reformer who emerges from the lower hierarchy in an organization and challenges the middle hierarchy. A reformer threatens middle management in three distinctly different ways.

The first threat is a function of the validity of [her] accusations about the inadequacy of specific actions of middle-level members and [her] suggestions for correcting them. If the reformer is correct, those in the middle will fear that those at the top will punish them when they discover the truth. [The teacher in this case had:
1. pointed out that middle management should provide basic support for new teachers in the form of a guidebook
2. middle management recruited another middle manager and resorted to putting her in closed meetings with them to, as she feels, bully her goon-style, when she had pointed out #1. And then, since the teacher pointed THAT out, it snowballed from there until the point of her expulsion].

The second threat comes from the moral challenge presented by such a reformer, for [her] demand for action will reveal the strength or weakness of middle management’ commitment to the organization.

And thirdly, the reformer’s challenge may indicate to the people at the top that middle management is unable to maintain order in its own jurisdiction. To protect their interests, middle-level bureaucrats therefore feel their only defense against reform-minded subordinates is intimidation.”

O’Day, Rory. (1974). Intimidation Rituals: Reactions to Reform.

    Journal of Applied Behavioural Science.

pp. 373-386.

Retrieved from:

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The Teacher’s Testimony

This was the big day! 🙂

The Assistant Vice Principal, Curriculum Coordinator and the Business Manager were in attendance.

The Business Manager testified first and honestly, that he had very little to do with this case, knew of little, could only assume that certain things happened and was not sure about things. It was curious indeed why the school put this man on the witness stand. Why would he stick his neck out for these administrators? Guess it’s his job…he did not look terribly excited about the whole process. As for the other two, they seemed to wear the grimace of consternation. Or swallowed poison? Or just general gene pool issues from way back?

Yuks aside, it is strange to see an administration made up of a bunch of men, who are depending on, basically, the one testimony of the Curriculum Coordinator. Although she was somewhat involved, she wasn’t as much involved as the Assistant Vice Principal, who isn’t even testifying! What about the Brothers? Is the CC some kind of workhorse for these men? Do they make her constantly go into the trenches for them? Why does she do it? (Well, the answer at the school quite likely is: the salary).

The school’s lawyer asked the teacher nothing about her classroom. Shock? After all these months of going on and on about how kids twirled pencils and put their heads on their desks and dared clap and cheer noisily during a math game etc. Not a question about her classroom. Smart? Well, the school had never documented a single objective complaint about or wrongdoing by the teacher. Their past strategy was to barrage the court with a million tiny points (mentioned above) hoping one of them would stick. Or, ask some teachers in the elementary school 3 years after the fact, to trash talk the teacher. (Too bad they got dates wrong; had never actually witnessed the teacher teach and boasted about going through the teacher’s garbage). Too Salem, Massachusetts 1692. They got 2 moms to write mean things about the teacher (too bad the moms had previously written really nice things about the teacher on exactly the same points; too bad their sons’ futures hang in the balance at the school). Too Maoist-denunciation. They got the Elementary Guidance Counselor to express shock at the teacher’s nuts students (too bad she happened to say that they were nuts when she–not the teacher–was teaching them–doesn’t that reflect on her? Or perhaps this is her willingness to go up to bat for the administration? Life and work in Japan for someone with her qualifications is a luck-out job indeed. Hang on to it honey!! Also, she had written something sweet and contradictory 3 years ago). The strategy here was: if several people tell similar stories, it must be true. And this could have possibly worked in court if the teacher did not have proof that these same people wrote different things way back. Lessons learned?
1. Back up your computer!
2. Be nice to people!
3. Actually do a good job at something!
4. Court is like the book Rashomon, until someone actually has evidence.

ANYWAY, the school has one peg leg left to stand on, we guessed, and they had to whittle it down to a fine pointy point! The lawyer focused on a point that he hoped would surely qualify the teacher to the dust bin:

On the one-year contract that the teacher (and every teacher) signed, there are 4 criteria for renewal:

4 renewal criteria (契約更新の基準):

1. Teacher’s work records and attitude(教師の仕事を記録し、態度)
2. Teacher’s aptitude (教師の適性)
3. School’s operational standing (学校の財政的実行可能)
4. School’s curriculum (学校のカリキュラム)

They tried really hard to get her on the “attitude”. Since:
1. Work records were not recorded as being bad by the school
2. The teacher is licensed and was qualified enough to hire and even renew after her first year
3. The school is not broke (?)
4. The school did not eliminate the 3rd grade or other things which she is qualified to teach.

They grilled her on an email she had written to the Curriculum Coordinator in March (?) April (?) 2007. The teacher had called in a government mediator to find a solution to what she felt was Power Harassment. The mediator told both sides to stop all contact until after the mediation period. But the Curriculum Coordinator would say an “unnatural” Hello to the teacher in front of others as if nothing was amiss at the school. (Imagine Kim Jung Il saying “What’s up?” to you at 7-11). The teacher wrote that during a staff meeting, the CC greeted her this way and would not give the teacher a paper handout until the teacher responded. She emailed the CC and asked her to stop these weird Hellos and allow for the mediation to finish.

If Hellos could be nuclear missiles….

Anyway, the lawyer tried to get the teacher to say that she did not want to greet Her Majesty CC. If the teacher said “no”, this might construe her as “rude” and possibly give grounds for #1: bad attitude, which = FIRED! The teacher testified that she acknowledged the CC in other ways, like giving a slight bow. How Japanese.

Believe it or not, that was kind of it. The teacher was often just “yes” or “no”ing things..maybe she’ll complain and then I’ll write more…

The school’s lawyer asked her a bunch of questions about her apartment and why she is continuing to pay the owner and not the school. Many court documents indicate that she should be paying the school. She said that since the apartment and the employment case were closely linked, she didn’t act on these documents on her own and instead deferred to her lawyer who would surely know what to do. Her lawyer pointed out that her apartment contract was never with the school. And the school, although they claimed to contract the apartment exclusively with the owner, were not the ones who paid the first 2 years of rent or 1,000,000 yen of key money and thank you money. The teacher paid it. So, the school needed to explain that.

PS: I hope to obtain a copy of the statement that the teacher wrote against the school. It is 17 pages, detailing all kinds of garbage. I will erase all the names, but you’ll have good imaginations, I’m sure.

PPS: If you are a student reading this: Awesome! This would have been a proper field trip. Notice how the CC and the Assistant Vice-Principal were absent on Wednesday??

Hopefully, this opens up the possibility that there are some people who look, talk, act and have jobs like adults, but they are nothing more than the yard apes you remember from recesses gone wrong. But, no matter who it is, address them. Make sure they know through and through who you are. You may win or you may lose, but they will remember they have been in a fight with you.

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Last minute thoughts

Last minute room change: courtroom 603, not 606.

The teacher is excited about testifying in court! This fantastic opportunity is a testament to a strong judicial system in Japan that allows any individual to have their day (or 2 years) in court with anybody.

Many people around the world fight to the death for such an opportunity over much worse circumstances. This whole case can be classified under “administrative skirmish” in comparison. It would be a waste and an insult to the justice seekers in the world NOT to solve problems when civilized means are at hand. So, the teacher is very happy about this opportunity.

She wishes her former students could take a field trip today! That would be REAL education!

Stay tuned. I’ll take notes as she talks. Also, the school’s Business Manager will testify.

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Review of a School-side Testimony

The teacher sends her thanks to those who attended. The Curriculum Coordinator testified.

The teacher’s lawyer asked the Curriculum Coordinator many things and she said many things, careful not to perjure herself, but the teacher was avidly taking notes next to her lawyer. I guess we will know the results of that later.

Where do I start? I guess the highlight of the testimony was this: the lawyer asked why, if the teacher was deemed so unfit in her first year of teaching, would the school not fire her or at least change her position. The school’s witness explained that they were an honorable school and honored the 2 years they said they would hire her. Earlier, the witness explained that hiring an overseas teacher was really expensive for the school. So 2 years it was. (But that didn’t explain why the teacher was kept at exactly the same homeroom).

Of all things that were said, based on the school’s logic, this made me want to demand a refund for the students of the teacher’s 2nd year class. So: are there incompetent teachers at the school right now who need to go, but are staying on because the school wants to save some money?? How much in debt is the school to compromise on something so important?? Or…was the teacher kept on for a full second year because there really was no problem despite the admin’s claims and they wanted to dispose of her (because she was annoying them) after they broke even? It seems either the families/students are getting shafted or the teachers. (But, rest easy teachers, just name drop this case and consider yourselves safe). Parents: if the school is in debt, which is probable from having built the new site…get to know the compromises that are being made to cut corners. It might seem like just a year or two of your son’s life, but it is a YEAR or TWO of your son’s life! Every moment of good education counts!

There seemed to be no time for the the Business Manager’s testimony. Next one is the teacher herself on March 3rd at 1:30pm in the courtroom on the 6th floor, Room 606.

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Testimonies! (Room # Correction)

The testimony phase of the court case will happen on the following dates. ANYONE from the public is welcome to watch!

St. Mary’s Business Manager and the school’s Curriculum Coordinator will testify on:
Wednesday, February 10, from 14:50 to 17:00. Room 606.

The teacher will testify on:
Wednesday, March 3, from 13:30 to 16:30. Also Room 606.

Note, the Elementary Assistant Vice-Principal will NOT be testifying–which seems to be a smart move on the school’s part, since he seems to have “done enough” for this case, (ahem). Furthermore, it would be more difficult to corroborate stories with more than one person telling it. (From reading the school’s last submission of documents, that seems to be a bit of an issue…)

The Curriculum Coordinator is the only other person from the school’s side who has seen the teacher teach. Perhaps there is school-side hope that this administrator’s words, her history as a teacher (and with the stunning 2 math books she pulled out of the trash in June 2007 and has kept mausoleum-fresh in her home since) will convince the judge that the teacher is the worst she has ever seen.

The teacher is choosing which outfits to wear (among other things, of course!).

Kasumigaseki Station (Chiyoda Line and Marunouchi Line); Exit A1; ROOM NUMBER: 620

At the Tokyo District Court (Civil Court) in this building:
“Tokyo koutou tihou kanni saibannsho goutou chiyousha” = 東京 高等 地方 簡易 裁判所合同庁舎

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December 2009 Update

Click Here for an Update!

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Recording a Precedent

日本語

Thank you for being the “eyes” in this case, whoever you may be. When any kind of abuse is kept a secret, it is bound to repeat. When abuse is spoken out, when it is known to more people, when more eyes are watching, it makes it difficult for further abuse to happen. Therefore, your only “job” as a reader of this case, is to be informed (and if you would like: to seek more information from both sides).

– Know that there is a Labour Dispute between the teacher and the school.
– Know that it stemmed from harassment and the silencing of it, according to the teacher.
– Know the different paths the teacher has taken to solve her problem.
– Know that the teacher has given her evidence of her claims fully in court, and based upon it and the school’s evidence, the judge has made a recommendation.
– Know that this court case is officially public, and is open to any body to attend at any time (in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo District Court, 13th Fl, 部19 on given dates and times).

In this case, the problem happened to a teacher. It is important to know of some precedent should it ever happen to another teacher, or a student, his family or even other international school teachers in similar circumstances. Currently, there is no written precedent of what to do when you have a serious problem within an international school. Members of the school community remember that Japan Soccer Coach and former St. Mary’s parent, Ruy Ramos (ラモス瑠偉) had once taken the opportunity to address the issue of school bullying on Japanese TV in the early 2000s.

St. Mary’s deserves to be an excellent school, not by omission of its problems, but by solving problems properly. Currently, the school has no clear teacher-evaluation procedure: how/when/why a teacher should continue teaching or be fired. This may cause the school to have many uncertified teachers, teachers who have not been evaluated in years, good teachers who are overlooked etc. In this case, a teacher was fired on an undocumented whim. Teachers leave their home countries behind to educate the students at St. Mary’s and spend a lot of their own money to set up lives here, just like other ex-pat families. Some degree of fairness and security is necessary for the stability of the school and the retention of good teachers in the long run. Few internationally-savvy teachers these days would want to stay long-term at a school with one-year contracts, no clear policy about job security, and large set-up costs (i.e. 6 months rent upfront in Setagaya-ku).

It is important not to fear solving problems. Be a critical thinker. Read the blogs and ask questions. Read flyers, recycle them and keep the seed of information should it ever become useful to you.

Japan is one of the best places in the world in which to live and work. There are laws that are upheld and if private residents / citizens have a problem, there are judiciary channels through which it can be solved. Even foreign residents are protected fully under this civilized and gracious protection.

Thus, the teacher in this case, is very grateful to be able to resolve this administrative / labour dispute through the courts. There are much worse problems in the world, where people suffer greatly, without any recourse to help themselves.

Legalistically, this case is only a labour dispute. But of course, the drive to fight it properly has to do with the theme of: “abuse of power with impunity”.

Thus, to persist with this case, to bring watchful eyes on the teacher’s problem vis-a-vis certain administrators, it is hoped that the treatment of all teachers doesn’t deteriorate again. Furthermore, whether or not the case is successful for the teacher, this exercise in using this hard-won judicial system to check if she is right or wrong, is important in and of itself.

Here is Isabel Allende talking about the age-old problem of abuse of power with impunity from minute 15:56:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/isabel_allende_tells_tales_of_passion.html

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September 15th, 2009 Court Hearing Results

Today, the judge met independently first with the teacher’s side and then the school’s side to hear their acceptance / rejection of his recommendation.

After learning the two sides’ wishes, he met with the teacher’s side to say that the school is not willing to do much of what the judge has recommended. He said that it is clear that we shall continue with the case.

Testimonies will happen in about January 2010. Visitors and spectators are welcome to come (dates and places to be announced when known).

The testimonies will actually be a welcome, publicly-recorded phase of this court case (names, dates, words, everything) where the mysterious, elusive logic of why the two administrators decided to zero-in on this teacher to the point of dismissal will hopefully come to light. So far, the only logical (and acceptable) explanation would be that she was “a horrendously unfit teacher”. The judge has weighed the documentation for and against this claim already and has attempted to suggest a settlement based on it, to no avail.

Perhaps the teacher has another explanation of how this problem came to be, which she will gladly offer in her testimony. Good thing, she also kept the documentation of this from 2006.

The two administrators, until their testimonies in January 2010, will surely be rehearsing in front of the mirror; corroborating stories at closed-door meetings at school; and being extra-good Christians in case God is watching them.

And He always is, isn’t He?

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Next Court Date

次の開廷は:
The next court date is at 15:30 on Sept, 15 2009, at Kasumigaseki Station (Chiyoda Line and Marunouchi Line); Exit A1; ROOM NUMBER: 13th floor, jyuukyuubu “19 bu” or “19部”

The teacher’s side will meet with the school side to discuss agreement upon the judge’s recommendation, or not. Details will be meted out. If any of the parties ultimately refuse the settlement conditions at this point, the lawsuit shall continue on through to next year–likely February 2010. Testimonies will be given.

Furthermore, depending on the final judgment in February 2010, either party may choose to appeal to a higher court, which would carry the proceedings on for another year or so.

The teacher in any event, as in the past, is prepared to do what needs to be done.

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The Judge Makes a Recommendation

At the beginning of August 2009, after about 9 months of court hearings, the teacher and the school’s sides have basically submitted all documents in terms of evidence.

Upcoming is the testimonies, which will likely reiterate each side’s points.

So, the judge has stepped in to make a recommendation based on the evidence so far. Judges tend to do this when it is foreseeable that the case is headed in a certain direction, in order to save everyone’s time. It a recommendation that the teacher finds quite interesting.

Once the two sides meet to discuss agreeing to this or not, an update, perhaps with more detail, will be posted.

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July 2 Update:

The teacher has submitted a petition by 32 families, report cards written by all 51 of her students, over 2 years, emails and letters written by others which support what the teacher claims; as well, school-issued memos that support the teacher’s practices.

The school has submitted their list of witnesses for the testimony phase that will come later this year. The witnesses are 2 administrators.

The teacher will submit her list by September 4th.

The judge suggested that the teacher’s housing contract be made between her and the owner. St. Mary’s lawyer refused this suggestion saying that it that it was impossible (?) and insisted that she pays the school directly. Though, the teacher has always paid the owner directly. Since the teacher’s housing is tied to the job, there is some question as what to do before knowing the outcome of the employment case.

The next meeting is at 16:45 on July 28th in Kasumigaseki regarding the housing issue. And September 4th regarding the employment issue.

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May 28 の開廷 Update:

The school still has not submitted any evidence to justify the teacher’s dismissal. Her lawyer has submitted another request asking for evidence of the unfair dismissal.

学校側はまだ先生の解雇の証拠を堤出しませんでした。先生の弁護士さんは学校にも一度不当解雇の証拠を頼みました。

次のアップデトは, 次の開廷の後で:

7月 2日 11:00午前 霞ヶ関で。

The next court date and update will be on July 2, 2009. The court session is at 11am in Kasumigaseki.

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次のアップデートは6月6日です:

取りあえず:

本件の背景:
原告である女性教師はSt.Mary’sで勤務を開始から二ヶ月目~六ヶ月目の4ヶ月間、二人の管理職にあたる人間よりパワーハラスメントを受けていた。
学校側がハラスメント及び’いじめ’のような行為があったことを認識する前に、教師は本件を東京都へ報告した。
その後、学校側は女性教師が学校でのハラスメントを公に発表したことに対する制裁として女性教師を解雇することを決定した。
現在、この女性教師は法廷においてこの問題を追及している。

本サイトはSt.Mary’sと学校が解雇した女性教師間で争われている裁判の公判の全ての日程を紹介しています(下記のマップをご覧下さい)。東京地裁において解雇が不当であったことを女性教師が主張しています。
是非傍聴にいらして下さい!

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April 23rd’s Court Hearing Review

Today, as previously promised, the school served papers to the teacher to sue her for living in her apartment.

At the court, the lawyers discussed the new possible case and decided to wait for decisions on either side to see if it should become a case at all.

The teacher lives in an apartment guaranteed by the school, she believed. She continues to pays rent, as she always has, every month by automatic bank deduction.

The school had decided to take over the rent payments a few months ago, on its own accord suddenly, but the teacher also continued to pay rent. Now, the school is suing the teacher saying that she owes the school money for rent. It is an interesting tactic because by taking over the rent in Setagaya-ku for 7 months, makes this a large sum of money.

The teacher will prove she willfully pays the rent, as she always has, every month, to the only party she owes money to: the owner.

In addition, she is preparing evidence to rebut the assertions of the last court date submitted by the school. (For the real case)

The teacher had expected that the school would do such a thing (sue her). 2 court dates ago, the school’s lawyer (there are 3, but they always send a young man), did his best “mean face” toward the teacher and told the judge in translation, that they were going to sue her for “squatting in their villa”.

Since the teacher started working at the school, she was told, in writing that she was the tenant. And as such, she has paid the rent, all the key money etc. But, for the school, they have always held the tenant position (on the official Japanese original of the contract, which they never show the teachers). By tying a teacher’s job to his/her home, it is easy to fire them and make them leave Japan without a struggle.

It is convenient to make the teacher lose her home because logically, this will make her life difficult and discourage her enough to leave Japan. The teacher may feel scared at the prospect of being sued and owing a lot of money that she probably does not have. As well, she may not have any friends who might be her guarantor for her next apartment. She would be homeless. All this would also possibly make her give up! In this way, it makes it possible for St. Mary’s to “win” this case, since their evidence otherwise is, well…

What will the teacher ever do?

The next court date is on May 28th, a Thursday, at 3:00pm at the same place.

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Correction: 05/10/08 Japanese Leaflet: 聖マリア学園で教えている教員の雇用は大変不安定な状態です!

今年度、31家族がまとまり、3年生のクラス担任ジュヌビーブ・トラン先生の突然の解雇処分を再検討してもらうための嘆願書をセントメリーズ校に対して提出しました。これは、現在のトラン先生が担任する児童の保護者全員(24家族)と、その他の7家族の声です。

「…私たちは、トラン先生の私たちの子供たちへの教育におけるあらゆる取り組みに大変満足しています。・・・(この嘆願書に対しての)学校側からの速やかな返答をいただけること願います。」— 3Tクラス保護者一同より
しかし、このような不公平または明確な理由のない教師の解雇において、学校側から返答がされることは一切ありませんでした。 以下が学校側の現状です。

 非雇用者である職員の解雇、または契約の非継続という決断が下されるにあたり、事前に異議を申し立てるプロセスが存在しません。
 トラン先生に関して、書面で残された通常の評価記録が存在しません。
 速やかかつ客観的な解雇理由が提示されていません。
 学校の雇用規則の中で示されている契約継続のための4つの基準のいずれかにトラン先生が違反しているという測定可能、または客観適な根拠が存在しません。
 トラン先生に対しての何らかの警告、罰則などが過去に行使されたという履歴はありません。
 今回のトラン先生の件は、東京都労働監督庁が発行するパワーハラスメントに関する注意事項にのっとったものではありません。
 トラン先生が担任する生徒たちの優秀なテスト成績も考慮されていません。
 「(トラン先生の件について)これ以上の議論および交渉は行いません。」これが、2008年1月の学校側の返答です。
 法定の失業保険も存在しません。
 法定の年金制度も存在しません。

更に 学校側は、能力があり良い変革をもたらす教師をセントメリーズ校に残したい、と考えている授業料を支払う顧客でもある保護者の妥当な要求を無視し続けています。それは何故でしょう?もし、学校側の理由が然るべき根拠に基づいているのではれば、説明ができるはずだと考えます。

1000人もの学生を指導する「もの言わぬ独裁制」が存在するのは何故なのでしょう?
セントメリーズの管理者は保護者の声に耳を傾けるべきです!

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