School Director Dismisses Bribery Video as Plot to Defame

BANGKOK — The director of the Samsen Wittayalai School said Monday that a video in which he appeared to accept a parent’s bribe was a plot to defame the school.

The video, given to a reporter Saturday in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, recorded an April encounter in which the parent claimed to give the school director, Virot Sumruan, a 400,000 baht “donation” to help secure his child’s enrollment.

The school director on Monday wrote a letter to the Office of the Basic Education Commission saying the act was planned by an alumnus to defame him and the school.

Virot claimed a group of alumni had been asking the school to accept children into the seventh and tenth grades, or Mathayom 1 and 4, every year. He said they were recently displeased after the school did not accept all the children they sought to enroll this year.

“This group of alumni were displeased and went to meet the director, talking in a threatening way,” he wrote.

Refusing to identify himself fear of retaliation, the parent, a resident from the south, said he gave the reporter information because he was not provided a receipt for the donation and was not confident his money would be spent to benefit the school.

It’s an open secret and routine practice for schools to solicit “donations” from parents – many of whom are willing to pay “tea money” to enroll their children in prestigious institutions – but the arrangement is not officially recognized.

The recording of the April 19 encounter covers everything from calling to schedule an appointment with the director to meeting him inside his office.

“Give it to the deputy director,” Virot can be heard saying when the parent asks what to do with what he calls “support money.”

The video does not show the parent give the money to the deputy director.

After the video was divulged – quickly becoming the subject of public controversy – the commission which oversees the school launched an investigation into the director.

Virot pointed out that the video filming was well planned and raised the question of why it was only recently released after having been filmed in April.

Virot is due to hold press conference Tuesday afternoon.