School cites bureaucratic reason for expelling teen activist Yok

Thanalop “Yok” Phanachai posted a selfie Monday night to Facebook and discussed her decision to protest her school’s dress code.
Thanalop “Yok” Phanachai posted a selfie Monday night to Facebook and discussed her decision to protest her school’s dress code.

A school accused by a young activist of expelling her for defying its dress code responded last night to justify kicking her out for not completing its registration process.

The Triam Udom Suksa Pattanakarn school said it expelled Thanlapop “Yok” Phanachai, who returned yesterday to the school to protest its decision, because her mother didn’t attend a meeting after the 15-year-old was released from 50 days of detention.

Yok’s mother had postponed her education while her daughter was arrested on suspicion of insulting the monarchy. The school’s statement didn’t deny ejecting her and declaring her persona non grata for dyeing her hair and going out of uniform this week to call for increased student freedoms, school officials instead cited a bureaucratic rationale to portray its decision in a more sympathetic light.

“The school would like to emphasize that it has never rejected Yok’s enrollment and has provided full support and assistance within the framework of student care systems, despite her lack of cooperation in improving her behavior as mentioned,” the statement read.

The school noted that Yok’s mother had postponed her academic studies in early April, just after she was arrested outside the Grand Palace.

After Yok was finally freed from juvenile detention last month, the school cited her mother’s failure to appear for its decision now to expel her due to her behavior. 

In a response today, Yok said that she brought a “guardian” with her to the registration meeting and, after a discussion of whether the individual was suitable, was allowed to complete registration.

The school noted that after Yok returned in late May, she did not comply with many dress code regulations and refused to attend certain classes. It also said she refused to participate in home room and morning flag-raising activities.

Thai girl charged with insulting royals protests expulsion by elite Bangkok school

Student reform advocates say such activities amount to indoctrination. Yok said her actions were meant to protest strict dress codes enforcing uniforms and hair styles and therefore protected expression.

Yok said Tuesday night that the school notified her of her expulsion after she escaped a meeting called after she protested the dress code.

“I felt suffocated and couldn’t bear it anymore, so I asked to leave,” she said on social media. “But the teacher prohibited it. They sat and blocked all the exits, so I couldn’t find a way out. There was a window behind us and a table in front of us, so I chose to crawl under the table.”

On Wednesday morning, the day after she was expelled over the violations, Yok returned to berate administrators from outside and attempted to enter the campus.

That sparked a backlash from inflamed school defenders who slammed her actions as inappropriate.

Yok is among nearly 20 minors accused of violating Section 112 of the penal code, which punishes behavior deemed offensive to the royal family with up to 15 years in prison per offense.

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