I. Student Matters A. Student Discipline B. Right to Quality Education vis-à-vis Obligation to Pay Tuition and Other Fees
Section 74. Authority to Maintain School Discipline . Every private school shall maintain good school discipline inside the school campus as well as outside the school premises when pupils or students are engaged in activities authorized by the school. MRPS (DECS Order No. 92, s. 1992) Legal Basis of School’s Authority to Discipline
REASON: For a school system to function properly, the conduct of pupils must conform to conditions that are conducive to learning.
The Supreme Court in the case of Philippine School of Business Administration vs. CA -- “ Certainly, no student can absorb the intricacies of physics or higher mathematics or explore the realm of the arts and other services when bullets are flying or grenades exploding in the air or where looms around the school premises a constant threat to life and limb. Necessarily, the school must ensure that adequate steps are taken to maintain peace and order within the campus premises and to prevent the breakdown thereof.”
How far does the school’s authority to maintain school discipline among its community members, particularly its students, extend? Extent of School Authority to Discipline
It is undisputed that the school can discipline its community members within the school campus during class hours. Whether that authority applies even outside of the school premises and class hours, the Supreme Court said-- ANSWER
“ x x x It is the better view that there are instances when the school might be called upon to exercise its power over its students x x x for acts committed outside the school and beyond school hours in the following: a) In cases of violations of school policies or regulations occurring in connection with a school-sponsored activity off-campus; b) In case where the misconduct of the student involves his status as a student or affects the good name or reputation of the school.”
Therefore when students misbehave outside the campus and the misconduct complained of directly affects the offender’s status as a suitable member of that community, there is no reason why schools may not impose disciplinary sanctions on him.
Section 75. Imposition of Disciplinary Action . School officials and academic personnel shall have the right to impose appropriate and reasonable disciplinary measures in case of minor offenses or infractions of good discipline committed in their presence. However, no cruel or physically harmful punishment shall be imposed or applied against any pupil or student. Imposition of Sanctions
As parents, the teachers shall use discipline not to punish but to correct, not to force, but to motivate; and not to obey with rigid cadence, but to choose to follow the right way. BASIC RULE
Hence, schools cannot generally use methods of punishing or such degree of penalties that a good mother or a good father would not likely use on her/his own children.
The legality of some of these penalties shall be discussed presently. 1) Fine This penalty is usually imposed on students who violate internal traffic, cleanliness, and other rules and regulations. Only two requisites must be complied with before this penalty may be legally imposed. Common Types of Penalties for Minor Offenses
2) Extra Work Authorities agree that there is no legal action to compel a person to do something against his will. Thus, a student of majority age may not be subjected to a sanction that would oblige him to act against his will. However, minor students who have not been emancipated from parental authority fall under partia potestas and therefore “are obliged to obey their parents so long as they are under parental power, and to observe respect and reverence toward them always.
3) Corporal Punishment Article 233 of the Family Code provides that-- “ In no case shall the school administrators, teacher or individual engaged in child care and exercising special parental authority, inflict corporal punishment upon the child.”
4) Grade Reduction School authorities and teachers cannot reduce the grade of a student because of his misconduct because the measure of academic achievement must not be based on conduct. Otherwise, the teacher or the school administration shall be unable to properly diagnose the student. Batas Pambansa Blg. 232 provides that-- “ Every teacher shall x x x x x x 5. Refrain from making deductions in students’ scholastic rating for acts that are clearly not manifestation of poor scholarship.”
Section 79 of the MRPS clearly prevents the reduction of a student’s grade for misconduct. The only exception to this rule is when the offense committed is relevant to the academic subject in which the student’s grade was reduced. Therefore, an elementary schoolchild may suffer a reduction in his Character Education grade if he is guilty of misconduct (see Section 79, MRPS).
Section 76. Filing of Administrative Action . When the offense committed is serious x x x the school head shall cause the filing of the corresponding administrative action against the erring pupil or student. No disciplinary sanction shall be applied upon any pupil or student except for cause as defined in the rules and regulations of the school or in this Manual, and after due process shall have been observed. The punishment shall be commensurate with the nature and gravity of the offense. Sanctions for Grave Offenses
Section 77. Categories of Administrative Penalties . The three categories of disciplinary administrative sanctions for serious offenses or violation of school rules and regulations which may be applied upon an erring pupil or student are: Suspension , Exclusion and Expulsion . ( Note : Also Non-Readmission)
Three (3) requirements before disciplinary sanction (Section 77) may be imposed: a) Must be for cause as defined b) Observance of due process c) Punishment must be commensurate
I. Must be for cause as defined in the printed rules and regulations of the school or in the MRPS Section 78. Authority to Promulgate Disciplinary Rules . Every private schools shall have the right to promulgate reasonable norms, rules and regulations it may deem necessary and consistent with the provisions of this Manual for the maintenance of good school discipline and class attendance. Such rules and regulations shall be effective as of the date of promulgation and notification to students in an appropriate school issuance or publication.
A written code of discipline contains an enumeration of specific offenses and their corresponding penalties.
What if the misconduct is not defined and penalized by written school rules, may the student still be administratively charged for said act or omission?
* Two types of offenses i) Generally accepted acts and/or omission that are subject to disciplinary action and imposition of sanctions; ii) Acts and/or omission which by certain school rule of conduct and standard of morality are subject to disciplinary action and imposition of sanctions. Depends on the Type of Offense Committed
For the student to be disciplinary charged for said offense -- the first need not be expressed in the printed school rules and regulations. The latter need to be defined and penalized.
The framers of our Constitution placed due process first among the provisions of the Bill of Rights. The section states-- “ No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” Requirement of Due Process II. After due process shall have been observed
Therefore, when a student commits a serious offense that entails the imposition of an administrative penalty as severe as suspension, non-readmission, exclusion or expulsion, he must first be accorded due process.
There is no justification for the denial thereof, not even if the offense was committed in the presence of faculty members or other school authorities.
In Diosdado Guzman, et al. Vs. National University, et al. , the Supreme Court laid down the minimum standards that must be met to satisfy the demands of procedural due process in student disciplinary hearings: 1) The students must be informed in writing of the nature and cause of any accusation against them; 2) They shall have the right to answer the charges against them, with the assistance of counsel, if desired;
3) They shall be informed of the evidence against them; 4) They shall have the right to adduce evidence in their own behalf; and 5) The evidence must be considered by the investigating committee or official designated by the school authorities to hear and decide the case.
III. The punishment shall be commensurate with the nature and gravity of the offense Although school authorities may have strictly complied with the minimum requirements of due process, courts may still INVALIDATE penalty imposed if NOT commensurate to the nature and gravity of the offense.
Courts Do Not Intervene With Factual Findings of Schools Except… a) Finding is based on speculation; b) Inferences made are BLATANTLY mistaken, absurd or impossible; c) Grave abuse of discretion; d) Misapprehension of facts; e) The tribunal, in arriving at its findings, goes beyond the issues of the case, AND f) If there is clear showing of denial of DUE PROCESS CONCLUSION
Article XIV, Sec. 1, 1987 Constitution “ The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.” B. Right to Quality Education vis-à-vis Obligation to Pay Tuition and Other Fees
“ x x x making sure that basic education is really solid, because if it is not solid, it affects the quality of secondary education. If secondary education is poor, then the person goes to college unprepared for college work. And if he is allowed to graduate again with a poor quality college education, he goes to university professional education even more unprepared.”
- Rev. Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ
In short— A school, before promoting or graduating a student, must be sure that he/she (the student) is functionally literate to go through next higher level .
Two (2) Basic Methods of Ensuring Quality Education 1. Continuous Evaluation of Faculty and Staff Competence and Efficiency 2. Evaluate Students: Determine Level of Learning Competencies
To ensure Quality Education: 1) Must be COMPETENT and EFFICIENT Code of Ethics for Professional Teachers, Article IV, Section 2— “ Every teacher shall uphold the highest possible standards of quality education , shall make the best preparation for the career of teaching, and shall be at his best at all times in the practice of his profession.”
BP 232 (Education Act of 1982), Section 16 (2) provides— “ The teacher shall xxx be accountable for efficient and effective attainment of specified learning objectives xxx.” Code of Ethics further mandates that— “ Every teacher shall participate in the continuing professional education (CPE) program of the PRC, and shall pursue such other studies as will improve his efficiency, enhance the prestige of the profession, and strengthen his competence, virtue and productivity in order to be nationally and internationally competitive.” (Article IV, Section 3)
“ A teacher shall ensure that conditions contributive to the maximum development of learners are adequate and shall extend assistance in preventing or solving learners’ problems and difficulties.” (Article IV, Section 3)
To ensure Quality Education: Teacher is obliged to: Section 16 (2), BP 232— “ Be accountable for efficient and effective attainment of specified learning objectives x x x.”
In short— A teacher is expected to be efficient and competent in the performance of his academic duties at all times. Otherwise, A teacher who has consistently shows his inability to efficiently perform his duties and responsibilities, within a common performance standards should not be allowed to stay in school xxx. The MRPS provides as just cause of terminating a faculty— “ Gross inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of his duties xxx.” (Section 3 (a))
In Evelyn Pena vs. NLRC , the SC said— “ x x x schools can set high standards of efficiency for its teachers since quality education is a mandate of the Constitution x x x (s)ecurity of tenure x x x cannot be used to shield incompetence.”
Duty to continually evaluate teachers
Evaluate Student Competence (Giving of Grades) Students Have Right… Section 16 (5), BP 232-- “ Refrain from making deductions or additions to student’s scholastic ratings for acts that are clearly NOT manifestation of scholarships.”
MRPS Section 79 “ Basis for Grading . – The x x x grade or rating x x x in a subject should be based solely on his scholastic performance. Any addition or diminution to the grade in a subject for co-curricular activities, attendance, or misconduct shall not be allowed x x x.”
Section 16 (3), BP 232— “ Render regular reports on performance of each student and to the latter and latter’s parents x x x.” … and Report to Students and Parents--
Students have the RIGHT— Section 9 (4)— “ x x x to access to school records x x x.” and Section 9 (5)— “ x x x issuance of (school records) within 30 days from request.” In Reporting--
WRONG to demand quality education from private school and be evaluated of his/her scholastic competence and be given access to school records if students refuse to pay tuition and other school fees. “ One must x x x recognize that it costs money to maintain high standards of education x x x. (A)s to private schools, what is demandable of them is only commensurate to the tuition and fees they are allowed to charge and the student is able to afford.” But…
In Julia L. Tan, et al. vs. CA , the SC held— “ x x x since (parents of students) have failed to comply with the conditions and prerequisites for admission, i.e. x x x payment of duly approved tuition fees x x x the school cannot be regarded as having acted arbitrary or capriciously in refusing to re-enroll (their) children.”
Paragraph 119, Manual of Information for Private Schools provide— “ x x x When a student fails to meet his financial obligations, the school should drop him from the rolls . But when he is allowed to remain in school until the end of the term he should not be deprived of the examinations. The school may, however, withhold x x his final grade xxx”
“ Withholding of Credentials – The release of x x x (school records) of any pupil or student may be withheld for reasons of x x x NON-PAYMENT OF FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS or PROPERTY RESPONSIBILITY of the pupil or student to the school. The (records) shall be released as soon as his obligations shall have been settled x x x. ” Principle involved: “TACIT RESOLUTORY CONDITION” (Civil Code, Art. 1191) Section 72, MRPS--
It is suggested that the students/ parents be duly informed in writing before enrollment that FAILURE to pay the school fees shall give the school the authority/right to rescind the enrollment contract and deny the student concerned his continued stay in school.
“ To recognize without reservation, the authority of _____________ School to bar or not to allow our child/children from entering the school campus and attending his/her classes in case we fail to pay two (2) consecutive installments of the due and demandable tuition and other school fees as indicated in the current schedule of payment and that he/she shall only be readmitted as soon as the tuition and other school fees are paid; provided however, that our child will be solely responsible in keeping up with the lessons, assignments and taking examinations given during the school days our child was not allowed to enter and attend classes.” This should be included as part of the the enrollment form:
to be considered valid causes for termination under Section 94 of MRPS, Section 78 of TVET Manual and Article 283 of the Labor Code, absences and tardiness must be habitual and inexcusable.
INEFFICIENCY AND INCOMPETENCE II. School Personnel Matters
ISSUE: When is there “HABITUALITY” in the absences and tardiness? ANSWER 1) School policy may fix a maximum number of absences or tardiness, in excess of which shall be considered as ‘habitual’ and hence, if also inexcusable, shall be tantamount to inefficiency and incompetence. N.B.
Policy must be made known to all personnel concerned
The maximum number must be reasonable .
2) In the absence of an existing school policy, the maximum number of absences for students as provided for in Section 73 of MRPS may be applicable. REASON: Rule in Section 73 is based on the presumption that a student needs to attend at least 80% of class days or hours to complete the course. Hence, if a teacher incurs absences of more than 20% of his class hours, then the teacher failed to complete the course. Such is incompetence in its HIGHEST FORM.
ISSUE: What if the frequency of absences is “Habitual” in character but EXCUSABLE? Can teacher be terminated? ANSWER Supreme Court said-- “ A working mother who has to frequently absent because she has also to take care of her child may also be removed because of her poor attendance, x x x however, the award of separation pay would be sustained under the social justice x x x.” (PLDT vs. NLRC, 164 SCRA 671)
ABANDONMENT (absence from work and deliberate intent to discontinue to return) Two (2) Requisites (a) Absences without authority (b) Intention not to return
Two (2) Letter Principle How to declare ABANDONMENT? As soon as a teacher starts to incur absences continuously without official leave or authority--
send 1st letter requiring him to report immediately and explain;
send 2nd letter informing him of termination due to abandonment
N.B. Unless employee is sent the second letter of termination, he/she remains an employee Hence, if he/she comes back, the right to his/her position may still legally exist no matter how long the absence.
NEGLECT OF DUTY Neglect is defined as the failure to carry out an expected or required action through carelessness or by intention. As a rule, “Neglect of Duty”, to be ground for termination, must be both GROSS and HABITUAL.
Single or isolated acts of negligence do not constitute just cause for dismissal
But if the negligent act results to substantial loss/damage to property or injury to person, habituality is NOT necessary to justify dismissal
“ The school, its administrators and teachers, x x x engaged in child care shall have special parental authority and responsibility over the minor child while under their supervision, instruction or custody. Authority and responsibility shall apply to all authorized activities whether inside or outside the premises of the school, x x x.” Article 218, Family Code “ A teacher shall recognize that the interest and welfare of learners are his first and foremost concern, and shall handle each learner justly and impartially.” (Article VII, Section 2)
Clearly, a teacher or school personnel required to exercise special parental responsibility but who fails to observe all the diligence of a good father of a family in the custody and care of the pupils and students, shall be held liable for gross neglect of duty.
Parental Responsibility The student while in school, is in the custody and hence, the responsibility of the school authorities as long as he is under the control and influence of the school, whether the semester has not yet begun or has already ended. In Amadora vs. CA , the Supreme Court said- “ Even if the student is just relaxing in the campus x x x the student is still within the custody and subject to the discipline and responsibility of the teachers x x x.”
A teacher should be held answerable for failure to submit grades or reports on time in accordance with the reasonable deadline. BP 232 mandates that teachers shall “(r)ender regular reports on performance of each student and to the latter and the latter’s parents or guardians with specific suggestions for improvement.”
In the recent case of University of the East vs. Romeo A. Jader , the Supreme Court, in no uncertain terms, declared-- “ The court takes judicial notice of the traditional practice in educational institutions wherein (teacher) directly furnishes x x x students their grades. It is the contractual obligation of the school (through the teachers) to TIMELY INFORM AND FURNISH sufficient notice and information to each and every student x x x.”
“ x x x The negligent act of a (teacher) who fails to observe the rules of the school, for instance, by not promptly submitting a student’s grade is not only imputable to the teacher but is an act of the school being his/her employer x x x.”
School Personnel do have the duty to keep the school records of each of his students. Duty is based on the pupils’/students’ or their parents’ rights to access to their own school records and the issuance thereof at least within thirty (30) days from request.
IMMORALITY School employees, particularly teachers and other academic personnel, are definitely bound by the rule that immorality is a valid cause for termination. For as teachers, they serve as an example to the pupils and the students, especially during their formative years.
TEACHERS AS PROFESSIONALS Duly licensed professionals who possess dignity and reputation with high moral values as well as technical and professional competence. In the practice of their noble profession, they strictly adhere to observe, and practice this set of ethical and moral principles, standard and values. (Preamble, Code of Ethics for Professional Teachers)
“ Every teacher shall merit reasonable social recognition for which purpose he shall behave with honor and dignity at all times and refrain from such activities as gambling, smoking, drunkenness and other excesses, much less illicit relations.” (Code of Ethics, Article III, Section 3) “ A teacher shall place premium upon self-respect and self-discipline as the principle of personal behavior in all relationships with others and in all situations.” (Code of Ethics, Article XI, Section 2)
“ A teacher shall maintain at all times a dignified personality which could serve as model worthy of emulation by learners, peers, and others.” (Code of Ethics, Article XI, Section 3)
Joseph Santos vs. NLRC, Hagonoy Institute, Inc. “ As teacher, (one) serves as an example to his/her pupils xxx. Consequently xxx teachers must adhere to the exacting standards of morality and decency. xxx A teacher both in his official and personal conduct must display exemplary behavior.” He must freely and willingly accept restrictions on his conduct that might be viewed irksome xxx the personal behavior of teachers, IN AND OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM, must be beyond reproach xxx they must observe a high standard of integrity and honesty.”
SERIOUS MISCONDUCT Misconduct is improper or wrong conduct. It is the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty.
Giving Failing Students Passing Grades They Did Not Deserve
Section 79 of the MRPS provides that the final grade or rating given to a pupil or student in a subject should be based solely on his scholastic performance.
Thus, it is not a matter of discretion on the part of the teachers in the giving of the students’ grades, but rather it is a clear obligation for the teachers to determine student academic marks solely based on scholastic performance. For a teacher to do otherwise, would be serious academic malpractice or grave misconduct in the performance of his/her duties.
In the case of Wilfredo T. Padilla vs. NLRC and San Beda College , the Supreme Court said-- “ This Court is convinced that the pressure and influence exerted by petitioner on his colleague to change a failing grade to a passing one, x x x constitute serious misconduct, which is a valid ground for dismissing an employee. ”
Failure to Maintain Confidentiality of School Records
BP 232 provides that the students shall have the right to “x x x the CONFIDENTIALITY of (their school records) which the School shall maintain and preserve.
Confidentiality covers only STRICTLY confidential records
1) Personal records 2) Academic records/ reports 3) Birth Certificates 4) Adoption papers 5) Medical/guidance reports 6) Disciplinary records
Sale of Tickets; Collection of Contribution/ Donations from Pupils / Parents BP 232, Sec. 9 (9) - students have right to be free from (voluntary) involuntary contributions Improper or unauthorized solicitation of contributions from parents and school children VIII, 5. A teacher shall not accept, directly or indirectly, any remuneration from tutorials other than what is authorized for such service.
Anita Y. Salvarria vs. Letran College, et al. (296 SCRA 184) The Supreme Court declared-- “ Petitioner contended that her dismissal was arbitrarily x x x, having been effected without just cause, on the premise that the solicitation of funds x x x was initiated by the students and that her participation was merely limited to approving the same. x x x”
If there is one person more knowledgeable of x x x policy against illegal exactions from students, it would be x x x Salavarria. Hence, regardless of who initiated the collections, the fact that the same was approved or indorsed by petitioner, made her ‘in effect the author of the project.’”
“ x x x the Department considers the act of teachers in “x x x contracting loans from parents of their students x x x” not only a serious misconduct based on Art. 282 (a) of the Labor Code, but is likewise a violation of a student’s right “x x x to be free from involuntary contribution x x x” (Sec. 9 (9) of BP 232).” Usec. Antonio E.B. Nachura
CONTRACTING LOANS IS GRAVE OFFENSE … because reprehensible behavior such as the use of trust relationship as leverage for borrowing money is involved. … to avoid exertion of undue influence by teachers over the students or their parents
WILLFUL DISOBEDIENCE The orders, regulations, or instructions of the employer or representative must be: 1. Reasonable and lawful 2. Sufficiently known to the employee; and 3. In connection with the duties which the employee has been engaged to discharge
Refusal to Relinquish Teaching as Required by School Administration
In Cruz vs. Medina , a faculty who rose from the rank to the Deanship, but refused to relinquish her teaching load even after accepting the Dean’s position and required to by Administration the Supreme Court stated-- “ x x x Considering the fact that she was holding a managerial position, her refusal to abide by the lawful orders of her employers would lead to the erosion of the trust and confidence reposed on her.”
ISSUES -- It is management’s prerogative to transfer an employee from one office to another within the school system, provided that it does not amount to a demotion in rank or diminution in pay. -- Only limitation is mala fides . That is, the employer cannot exercise this right is where it is vitiated by improper motive; -- Employee may disobey an inconvenient transfer.
- This is not insubordination. No law exists compelling the acceptance of a promotion, since this takes the nature of a gift which a person has the right to refuse. - A transfer may be refused by the employee if the transfer is coupled with or is in the nature of a promotion.
REQUIREMENT OF DUE PROCESS For termination of employment, the following standards on just causes as defined in Article 282 of the Labor Code: a) A written notice served on the employee specifying the ground for termination, and giving employee reasonable opportunity to explain his side;
b) A hearing during which the employee is given the opportunity to respond to the charge, present his evidence or rebut the evidence presented against him; and c) A written notice of termination served indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify his termination.
Pursuant to the pertinent provision of the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools and the Labor Code, you are hereby charged of ________________, an offense punishable by ____________, which was allegedly committed as follows: (Attached copy of the complaint, if any) Considering the foregoing, you are hereby required to explain in writing within three (3) days from receipt of this notice why no disciplinary action should be taken against you. Failure on your part to answer said charges within the prescribed period shall be deemed a waiver of your right to be heard and the case shall be resolved on the basis of the evidence available at hand. Very truly yours, SAMPLE NOTICE:
The SERRANO DOCTRINE In Serrano vs. NLRC and Isetann Department Store , payment of backwages no longer limited to 3 years only. “ x x x We hold, therefore, that, with respect to Art. 283 of the Labor Code, the employer’s failure to comply with the notice requirement does not constitute a denial of due process but a mere failure to observe a procedure for the termination of employment which makes the termination of employment merely ineffectual.”
Halley’s Comet A memorandum, as it goes down the chain of command in an educational institution.
SUBJECT : Operation Halley’s Comet FROM : Chairman of the Board of Trustees TO : The President Tomorrow evening at approximately eight (8) p.m., Halley’s Comet will be visible in this area, an event which occurs only once every seventy five (75) years. Have the students fall out in the football field in uniforms and I will explain this rare phenomenon to them. In case of rain, we will not be able to see anything, so assemble the students in the auditorium and I will show them film of it.
FROM : The President TO : Vice President for Academic Affairs By order of the Chairman of the Board, tomorrow, at eight in the evening, Halley’s Comet will appear above the football field, if it rains, fall the students out in uniforms. Then lead them to the auditorium where the rare phenomenon will take place, something which occurs only once every seventy five years.
FROM : Vice President for Academic Affairs TO : College Dean By order of the Chairman of the Board, in uniform, at eight o’clock in the evening tomorrow, the phenomenal Halley’s Comet will appear in the auditorium. In case of rain in the football field, the Chairman of the Board will give another order, something which occurs once every seventy five years.
FROM : Dean of College TO : Academic Coordinators Tomorrow at eight o’clock in the evening, the Chairman of the Board will appear in the auditorium with Halley’s Comet, something which happens every seventy-five years. If it rains, the Chairman of the Board will order the COMET into the football area in uniform.
FROM : Academic Coordinators TO : Department Heads When it rains tomorrow at eight in the evening, the phenomenal, seventy-five year old Chairman Halley, accompanied by the President will drive his Comet thru the football field area theater in uniform.