Education Minister Treenuch Thienthonghas instructed a boarding school in Phetchabun’s Muang district to punish students involved in the sexual assault of female pupils in its dormitory on Aug 24, if found guilty.
The school, Rajaprajanugroh 57 Phetchabun School, previously reported that five male students were expelled over the incident. However, local news reports stated that the boys were only suspended, and sent home for online classes.
Ms Treenuch on Monday said the school has also been instructed to punish two female students suspected to be complicit in the incident.
The two students allegedly helped the boys enter a Covid-19 isolation ward on the upper floor of the dorm.
The boys allegedly first appeared at the dorm on Aug 23 and assaulted five girls. The following day at 11pm, the boys allegedly appeared again and raped a 17-year-old girl while 30 other girls in the room remained in their beds after they were threatened by the boys.
The 17-year-old’s parents later filed a police complaint over the incident.
Ms Treenuch said Amporn Pinasa, secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec), and the director of the Special Education Bureau are still investigating the matter.
Parents of both sides of the students are negotiating to settle the issue, she added.
For now, the 17-year-old victim has moved back to Loei province, she said. The Educational Service Areas will provide the necessary assistance if she wants to transfer to a school in the province, she said.
Ms Treenuch also pledged to review safety protocols in boarding schools to beef up security.
Meanwhile, Wissanu Phojai, acting director of Rajaprajanugroh 57 Phetchabun School, said his predecessor has been transferred to an inactive post following the incident.
Mr Wissanu said that after inspecting the dorm, he learned that the place is not suitable for students.
He also insisted that the two female students allegedly involved will also be punished if found guilty.
Afterwards, a panel will consider whether they should be expelled or not, he said.
Police will press charges against the five boys for the alleged rape of minors, according to the superintendent of Muang police.