A junior high school principal appeared before a school assembly Wednesday to apologize not only for its role in a student's suicide but also for fibbing about what had happened afterward, the Japan Times reports. The 15-year-old took his own life on Dec. 8 after his parents found out the school wasn't going to give their son the letter of recommendation he needed to take the entrance exam for his high school of choice. The school, located in the town of Fuchu, wouldn't pen the letter because the teen's file noted he had been busted for shoplifting during his first year at the school—even though it turned out it had been a different student who committed the crime. "Our child would never have taken his life if the school's data management had not been sloppy," a statement from the boy's family read.
What's said to have happened: The teacher who entered the shoplifting charge into the school's records was basing the entry on a verbal report from another faculty member and plugged in the wrong name. The mistake was discovered in October 2013, but while the error was fixed on paper, it remained in the school's electronic records. The school's in-house probe found the school was to blame for the boy's death due to "poor clerical management and career guidance," per Kyodo News. The "career guidance" portion relates to the boy's homeroom teacher, who spoke with him five times about progressing to high school, reports the Mainichi. Those sessions consisted of five-minute interactions in the school hallway. Principal Hiroshi Sakamoto also apologized for initially saying the boy had died of heart failure. (In the US, a police officer lost his job for his joke about an activist's suicide.)